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Password Access is a Part of Estate Planning

If you are like many of us, your day-to-day life requires an increasing number of passwords. Maybe you forget one from time to time and find yourself locked out of something you need to access and going through the hassle of proving your identity so you can gain access again. Or maybe you use a  password keeping program that holds all of your passwords so you don’t have to think about them. You may even do what experts sternly advise us no to do: use the same password for everything.

No matter what you do to solve password dilemmas, the point is: you can find a way to gain access even if it is a hassle. Now imagine if you were not around or incapacitated. Then what? published a piece entitled “Your Estate Plan Isn’t Complete Without Fixing the Password Problem.”  If you have not considered passwords as a part of estate planning before now,  you should.

If you have the necessary estate planning documents executed but no one can get to your accounts, financial statements, or e-mail, this can create difficulty.

Kiplinger suggests several ways to prevent your heirs or estate executor from being locked out:

Share passwords with someone you trust: You can either provide that person with the passwords or you can provide them with a way to access your computer if your computer saves passwords. 

Put a list of passwords in a safe deposit box: This method seems simple enough but issues may arise if you change your passwords. Even when you rare committed to keeping the same passwords, circumstances may arise that cause you to change passwords. You would then have to remember to update your password list.

Use a digital wallet: A digital wallet will have all of your passwords and store them in the cloud. Someone would still need the password to your digital wallet. You could tell the password to someone you trust (to avoid writing it down) or your could leave the digital wallet password in a safe deposit box.

The purpose of this post, as all of our other posts is to prepare you, not to scare you. We know that many people find the prospect of estate planning daunting enough as it is but if you have ever dealt with what happens when someone doesn’t prepare adequately, you will be able to appreciate the gift of preparation.