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What's a good word to describe the situation when sensitive information is given to a trusted proxy (such as a lawyer), to be released only when a certain event occurs, such as a person's untimely death?

  • Do you want to describe the transaction or the information given? Title says the latter, while your text says the former. – Jürgen A. Erhard Jan 12 '11 at 16:24
  • @jae, I've clarified question and title. – Petrus Theron Jan 12 '11 at 16:28
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I might call that a contingency confidence.

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The trusted information is held in escrow?

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TV Tropes (warning: not productivity safe) has an entry for Dead Man Writing, and some of those examples cover what you're talking about.

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  • No doubt from "dead man switch". I like it. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jan 12 '11 at 22:31
  • @dmckee: I thought it was a snowclone of "Dead Man Walking". – Andrew Grimm Jan 12 '11 at 22:36
  • Actually, it all comes from the old Ashkenazi Jewish traditional text Sefer Chassidim which has a fable warning to never wear a dead man's shoes. – phantombread Oct 29 '14 at 18:47
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Edit: Answered before the question was clarified, and addressing the information so entrusted, rather than the process.


If the context is already established "insurance" is not a bad choice. But you can't use it without setting the stage because it has too many alternate meanings.

On a snarky note, there is "last will and testament", but again it won't work if you haven't set it up.

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  • 1
    How about "escrow"? – Petrus Theron Jan 12 '11 at 16:28
  • @Fresh. Not bad. I think it has a bit of the same issue as "insurance"---too many mundane meaning to be clear without some elaboration---but certainly a relevant word. Money can be placed in escrow for sensitive transaction, real estate transaction generally include a escrow phase, etc... – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jan 12 '11 at 16:35
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This would actually be the "testament" part of last will and testament. It comes, through three other forms, from the Latin for witness, which seems to dovetail pretty perfectly into the heart of the situation you're trying to describe. The act of putting that information in the hands of a chosen proxy would be described as giving testament.

The second google definition looks perfect.

From google:

tes·ta·ment ˈtestəmənt/ noun noun: testament; plural noun: testaments

1. a person's will, especially the part relating to personal property.

2. something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event, or quality.

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