This Is How Lessons From The Past Help Us Plan Our Tomorrows

Guest Post by Darren Richmond - The Soldiers Box

The need and desire to pass belongings on to loved ones at the end of life has remained consistent throughout history. We all have an understandable desire to ensure our loved ones are taken care of and our legacies are preserved.

The Pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt were no different. They would leave retainer services to themselves in an attempt to provide the same kind of lifestyle after death that they had enjoyed during their lifetimes.

In the 9th century the last will and testament of Alfred the Great was created (almost 15 years before his death) to distribute land and property to his family. The actual document, known as the Liber de Hyda, now resides in the British Library.

More recently, soldiers fighting on the front line in the first world war responded to this innate human need by using the small brass tins given to them by Princess Mary as a morale boost. The tins became known as 'Soldier's Boxes'. Although it was not their original purpose these tins became a way for soldiers to keep their most treasured possessions, letters, trinkets and photos. If the soldier lost his life in battle the tin would be handed down to his next of kin.

When it comes to physical assets, like homes and jewellery, wills remain relevant to this day. However, in this digital age, we amass large quantities of intangible assets on the internet, in the cloud and distributed across innumerable laptops, PCs, smart phones and tablet devices. These digital assets have enormous emotional, financial and practical value. The desire to preserve and pass these on to our loved ones is equally strong but the mechanisms required to manage this process are not provided by traditional wills.

Loved ones may inherit a laptop or tablet but it's not credible to imagine they would have the technical skills or patience required to sift through the thousands of files contained, even if they knew what to look for and could get past the login screen. And we all add to our collection of digital assets on a daily basis but could never hope to keep our wills updated regularly enough to keep pace.

So when I heard the inspirational story of the Soldier’s Boxes in world war one it made me reflect on what happens to our digital world when we die and how do we manage this in our end of life planning.

It was clear to me that we needed a new mechanism - one fit for the digital age. Some of my oldest friends and I had established careers in web development and IT security so I realised immediately that we were ideally placed to create this solution.

In recognition of the story that inspired us we called our solution The Soldier’s Box. It's a secure cloud-based web application which allows your digital legacy to live long into the future. Our users can easily store digital files of any type and then assign beneficiaries who receive the files if a trustee initiates our beneficiary process and our checks and balances are satisfied.

We're continually surprised by what people use The Soldier's Box for. Small owner-managed businesses use it to store important information that will ensure the ongoing running of the business in the event of their death. Many individuals use it to store family photos, archives and sentimental items like their children's school paintings. Some are more focused on practical information - passwords for online accounts or even a letter telling a spouse where the stop cock is located.

Importantly, if desired, our beneficiary process can be triggered before an account holder's death so it is useful for families dealing with the palliative care of relatives who can no longer deal with their own affairs.

The Soldier's Box is so much more than just cloud storage. It helps ensure your memories never get lost and that future generations of your family get to know you, your wishes and have access to the information you want them to have.

The digital revolution is not going away. Every aspect of our lives is in the process of being, or has already been, slowly digitised. Photos, videos, music and even cash is making the journey from physical to digital. Like everything else we own we have an overwhelming need to hand these things on to our friends and families. Now there is a solution that allows you to organise and securely store these files and then easily distribute them to the right people when the time is right.

For more information or to sign up for free visit The Soldiers Box.