Good answers are a dime a dozen, but you know what’s really rare? A good question. Recently, the daughter of a deceased client asked this really good question: “Did dad leave a treasure map?” My answer, “Yes, thankfully he did.”

1. Preserving our digital assets

Better than a treasure map is a written letter to our loved ones instructing them what to do when our number gets called. Additionally, compile a list of all of your computer usernames and passwords.

The reason most people don’t do this is that they have no idea how many online accounts they actually have. And if they don’t, my wager is that neither does anyone else.

However, it is fairly simple to do if you allow yourself to go through one billing cycle and try to pay everything online. We are creatures of habit, so at some point in the future you will find yourself accessing an account online and of course, requesting the merchant to resend your forgotten user name and password. Or is that just me?

Anyway, after a few months of keeping a record of your logins, you will most likely have a pretty good inventory of your important usernames and passwords.

2. The key to keys

Here’s another good question: What’s the best estate planning device that you can get for less than $5? Answer: A package of key tags. You know, those metal-rimmed, white circular things that we often throw away after our car has been serviced. Any office supply or hardware store will sell these.

Making a copy of all of your keys, labeling them, and including a note decoding the whereabouts of the locks they fit will go further in avoiding a scavenger hunt than GPS technology.

So what do you do with those mystery keys, the ones that have been in a drawer for 20 years and have most likely lost the metallurgical integrity to open the locks to which they were paired? Put them in an envelope titled “mystery keys,” and no, they do not teach that in law school.

If you or a loved one encounters a mystery lock, there is but one place to search for its mate. If the mystery key is not in the mystery key envelope, then the search is over and it’s time to call a locksmith. We have just saved a spike in blood pressure and endless hours of profanity-laced frustration. And best yet, we no longer have keys rattling around in our drawers that create those moments of blank thought.

3. How do we safeguard our accounts and documents?

It’s important to understand the legal aspects of your trusted person accessing your accounts. It is illegal for them to log in to your accounts, and tell them so. The goal here is to increase your security, not decrease your privacy.

In order for someone to access your accounts while you are living, they must have a durable power ofattorney. Oftentimes, I create these so they do not become effective until or unless the client becomes incapacitated. That’s the only time they should intrude into your affairs unless your relationship is such that you actually prefer otherwise. If that’s the case, the sooner we grant them power of attorney, the better.

This also alleviates having to add them to your accounts. Remember, if someone is on your accounts or has joint title to your property, then your assets are targets for their liabilities.

Once you have compiled your inventory of passwords and collection of labeled keys, how do we protect them? For $50 you can get a fireproof safe, although the best ones are the two-drawer fireproof file cabinets and those range from $150 to $300. Still, a pittance to pay for financial security. One practical point of counsel: If you purchase the fireproof file cabinet, do so from an office supply store and require they deliver it. They’re heavy!

Inside the safe, keep your list of passwords, your newly labeled keys, written instructions, estate planning documents, birth certificates, passports, a photocopy of the front and back off of your credit cards and of your driver’s license. Then, make sure at least one trusted person has access to the safe.

In the event that your house burns down, your safe and all of your priceless papers will be sitting on the slab waiting for you. A bit warm, perhaps, but safe and secure and you won’t even need a treasure map.