Are you prepared for worst case scenarios? As REALTORS®, most of us are independent contracts. In other words, we are all small business owners in our own right. So, the question is…
If anything happened and you were to die or be otherwise incapacitated… will your loved ones and/or business associates know how to deal with everything you leave behind?
As much as I teach about estate planning and organizing ownership of your personal and real property to prepare for transition upon death, until last year, this was all pretty much theoretical in nature.
Last year, my qualifying broker passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. He was not only my broker, but he and his wife were my closest friends here on St Simons Island over the past twenty years. I’ve spent the past months since his passing helping his widow, also a REALTOR®, to muddle through making sense of the business he left behind.
Needless to say, it’s been a learning experience for us all.
But it’s a reality we all have to consider.
Today, with all this technology, we live in a password protected world and it makes dealing with death and incapacity so much more complicated!
We use all sorts of applications and cloud based services, each requiring passwords. In real estate, we use countless services which all require password protection whether it’s to access our MLS service, our online forms, Quickbooks, personal or business banking, or any number of other online tools on which which we rely.
Our lives are centered around this little hand held device. We passcode it so no one can peer into our business and access information we keep within. We’re told to update our password regularly for security purposes and to NEVER write down our passwords.
The problem is that when you’re gone, no one else can get into your phone and your associated accounts either. Apple, for example, locks down their security like they’re the NSA for iCloud accounts. Even they have protocols for accessing your deceased loved one’s account, trust me, even following theri protocols, it is nearly impossible to get it!
So what’s a body to do?
As a small business owner, you seek professional legal advice on the best way to set up your business or restructure your business if you’ve already been in operation. Also consider all of your passwords and log-in information. It’s hard, I know. We’re told never to write these down… or change our passwords regularly. So what is the solution? No one really knows. I suppose the best generic answer is to find some system that works best for you.
The thing is to consider your options rather than ignoring the uncomfortable topic…
Stay tuned! Based on my recent experience, we are in the process of developing a Broker specific course on Brokerage Contingency Planning. Even members of GREC have told me this is something that needs to be addressed and have encouraged me to pursue this.