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How does password management fit into estate planning?

| Dec 11, 2020 | Firm News

People find themselves more reliant on digital media than ever before. Online banking and bill paying, for example, remains the preferred way of doing business for untold numbers of North Carolina residents. Anyone who maintains brokerage, banking and other financial accounts online likely protects their passwords. However, when planning one’s estate, it may be best to make sure that those passwords become available to certain heirs.

Why Password Management Matters

Passwords provide access to all online financial websites or apps. Upon the decedent’s passing, surviving friends and family members, especially the executor of the estate, must then accept responsibility to address financial matters. If someone canceled all paper mailings in favor of online communication only, survivors won’t benefit from waiting for statements to arrive in the mail. The statements may never come in the first place, and survivors may scramble to locate information.

Giving the executor access to the decedent’s passwords upon his or her passing allows everything to move more swiftly. For example, the executor could access a brokerage account and process and perform the necessary steps to transfer assets to a beneficiary. An estate may have debts as well. Accessing accounts may facilitate paying off those debts as part of the probate process.

Social Media Matters Too

Sharing one’s passwords to social media accounts could be valuable. Survivors may announce someone’s passing to his or her followers on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.

Of course, the person crafting a will and otherwise taking part in estate planning may worry about password security. Writing things down on paper, placing the info inside an envelope and leaving the items in a desk drawer would not be the most secure strategy. What about putting the information into a safety deposit box or the appropriate file at the attorney’s office? The will could then reveal where to locate password information.

Password maintenance factors into the estate planning process. Therefore, discussing password issues with an attorney may be advisable.