Seven Tips on Handling Passwords When Estate Planning
There have been a number of changes to estate planning in recent years. Not only has estate planning become more complex, the ways in which an executor collects information have transformed. One of the most noticeable changes is that many people now receive financial documents digitally instead of through printed documents. While these documents make it much easier to access important information, digital documents also present a number of obstacles including the problem of passwords. Fortunately, there are some helpful steps that you can follow to make sure that your digital assets and documents are capable of being accessed by an executor or loved one in the case of an unexpected death or incapacity.
Give Your Password to Someone You Trust
The best way to avoid the password problem in estate planning is to give your password for your computer, phone, and email to someone you trust. In addition to providing this information, it is also a good idea to share details about each financial service that you use. Some people decide to give this person the password to one profile and place all of their sensitive information inside this account.
Write Down the Passwords and Place Them Somewhere Safe
Many individuals decide to write down all of their passwords and place this list in a safety deposit box. After a person’s death or incapacity, an executor or guardian is then able to access this information. While storing passwords in such a way presents fewer risks than giving your password to someone you trust, safety deposit boxes can present challenges if you decide to change your password. If a person is prepared to keep a safety deposit box password list up to date, this list can be ideal.
Use a Digital Wallet
Similar to a real life wallet, a digital wallet is used to keep all of a person’s passwords in an encrypted file. The only challenge that digital wallets present for an executor or surviving spouse is that a password will still be required to access the digital wallet, which would likely mean that a person would be required to arrange for a way for the password to a digital wallet to be passed to a loved one.
Consider Splitting Your Passwords Among Loved Ones
Some people utilize a password splitting strategy in which half of a password is given to one person and the other portion is given to someone else or an estate planning attorney. The advantage of this method is that no one has access to all of your passwords and as a result, it is possible to maintain security. Depending on who is named as executor, there is the potential that this method might be too complicated.
Do Not Use a Method That is Too Creative
When deciding on the best way to share a password, it is a good idea to not use a method that is too creative for your loved ones. If there are any obstacles in sharing your password, it is a very real possibility that your estate planning strategy will not work properly and loved ones might be left out of accessing your digital assets.
Create a List of Each Digital Assets
After selecting the password strategy that works best for you, it is a wise idea to create a list of important services and access information. Some of the things to consider placing in this list include computers, electronic devices, email accounts, financial accounts, and online file storage services. It is also a good idea to include a description in each list of what each account holds so your loved ones can make sure that they access all of the necessary information in each account.
Identify Who Will Handle Digital Assets Elsewhere
It can be very helpful to identify who will act as a digital executor in other estate planning documents. This is because the legality of entering another person’s digital accounts is uncertain even when end-of-life issues are concerned. By providing explicit permission to enter your account elsewhere, it is possible to decrease the amount of troubles your loved ones might have accessing your digital accounts.
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer
When it comes to estate planning, passwords are a complex subject. Through proper planning, however, it is possible to address any concerns that arise ahead of time. If you need the assistance of an experienced estate planning lawyer, do not hesitate to contact attorney Melanie Tavare today.