Should My Executor Have My Account Passwords?

Passwords
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Passwords can be a pain for heirs without appropriate planning.

Digital assets are a significant part of our modern lives.

Almost all digital assets require credentials for access.

A login is often required too gain access to your local computer, let alone online accounts and mobile apps.

According to a recent Barron article titled “How to Ensure Heirs Avoid a Password-Protected Nightmare,” there seems to be a fine line between protecting your passwords and unintentionally losing access yourself or leaving your loved ones unable to login when needed.

Passwords are an important part of keeping digital assets safe.
Your executor will need usernames and passwords to access your accounts when you die.

Because digital assets can hold private data and financial information, keeping these secure should be a personal priority.

Additionally, technology companies and other institutions also have a vested interest in protecting your identity and your assets.

The digital world commonly utilizes passwords, encryption, and multifactor authentication.

Digital assets also are governed by federal data privacy laws.

With all of these factors in play, you will need to be intentional when it comes to including digital assets in your estate plan.

What should you do?

To begin, you should inventory your digital assets and provide a list for your executor.

Digital information you may need to include are cryptocurrency accounts, e-commerce accounts, email accounts, financial accounts, health insurance benefits, house and utility payments, loyalty programs for travel, social media, file-sharing and storage accounts, streaming subscriptions, and media storage accounts for video, music, or photos.

Whew.

Many of these contain either significant monetary value or priceless personal meaning.

After you compile this list, you should include access instructions with credentials for usernames and passwords.

After you create this list, you should review it regularly to ensure it is updated and kept secure.

Do not include your “digital” information in your last will and testament.

Because this is a public document when submitted to the probate court, anyone could read your instructions and access your accounts.

Yikes!

By taking steps now to provide passwords and other credentials to your executor, while also protecting them from the public, you can leave your loved with less of a mess through which to sort.

Reference: Barron’s (Dec. 15, 2021) “How to Ensure Heirs Avoid a Password-Protected Nightmare”

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