So much is online these days, which means we have passwords for just about everything! This is great for ease of use, but it can present some challenges for your heirs should something happen to you. Even if you have a power of attorney in place, without passwords, it may be difficult for designated individuals to quickly jump in and manage your financial affairs, such as paying your mortgage and utilities. This highlights the importance of passwords in estate planning. Below are some passwords that you should consider sharing and how you can do so securely.
Important Passwords to Share
As you compile your password lists, think about accounts that are most critical to managing your day-to-day finances, such as:
- Bank Accounts
- Credit Cards
- Mortgages and Loans
- Accounting/Bookkeeping Services
Some accounts are not needed for routine tasks but are important should you become deceased:
- File Sharing Services
- Software Accounts (for Licenses)
- Domain Registrar Accounts
- Server(s) Access
- Any Accounts with Recurring Payments
Lastly, these accounts may not be critical but are helpful:
- Social Media
- Home Security Systems
- Cell Phones
- Investment Accounts
It is extremely important that you store and share your passwords securely. Avoid writing them down in a notebook or saving them in a computer file. Someone could steal that notebook or hack your computer and gain access to everything! Instead, choose a secure password sharing option, such as LastPass*.
Lastpass* allows you to create an online account to store your passwords. Visit lastpass.com to learn how they keep your information secure. The feature of the account that we think works well with estate planning is their emergency access.
Emergency Access allows you to designate another LastPass* user as someone that you trust. Should something happen to you, that user can request access to your entire password list. You are notified of the request and have a certain amount of time to deny it (you set that time frame; it can be as short as 3 hours or up to 30 days). Once the time has lapsed, the user is granted full access.
More on the Importance of Passwords in Estate Planning
The legal process to gain access to accounts and logins in your name can be lengthy. If you become injured, disabled, or deceased, having access to your passwords can help individuals that you designate as power of attorney or executor of your estate. This is the primary importance of passwords in estate planning. Discuss with your attorney whether you should share passwords, and if so, to which accounts.
*Note: This is just one of many password storing solutions available online. We are not specifically endorsing Lastpass but are merely mentioning it as a possible solution with a feature that can help in estate planning. Please use your own judgement in selecting a password storage service.