You may guess it’s the password to your online bank account, to Facebook or to a shopping site. Those are all important but there’s one that it’s critical you share with a loved one. It’s the password to your email account.
Why is this so important? When you die, your loved one or executor will try to access all of your online accounts so that they can close them down or, if necessary, continue their use. For example, they may want to shut down your account on Amazon since you won’t be doing any more shopping. Or, if you pay your utility bills online, they may want to continue to pay them until they sell your home.
You may use the same login information and password for all of your accounts but chances are that you have several different ones. However, most of the accounts have a system that will enable a user to recover a forgotten login or password. The user just needs to know how to access the email account linked to that other site so he or she can recover the information when it is sent out.
Although it is not strictly legal for you to share your password and login information, it is the easiest way to ensure that when you’re gone, your executor will be able to easily access your information and settle your estate.
For more information about digital estates and the steps you should take to be sure you have included them in your planning process, check out our book “Access Denied ” or go to our site www.diesmart.com.
In the “old days”, a paper trail was usually very easy to follow when someone died. You could find their bank account statements, credit card and utility bills and pension and brokerage account information all tucked away in a file cabinet or a drawer. Then you called the contact numbers provided to notify them about the death.
Today, it’s not so simple.
Many of us do our banking online. All we do is log in, click on those merchants we wish to pay, insert the amount and we’re done. If we want to transfer money or even deposit a check, no paper has to be used. Everything is done electronically.
Bill paying has also gone paperless. I can’t remember the last time I received a bill in the mail. Today I just receive an electronic notification that my bill has been processed for payment.
If I want to know how my portfolio is doing, I log into my brokerage account to check. I no longer get huge stacks of paperwork every month detailing the value of each investment. It’s the same with my pension – I just go online and review the numbers.
This is great except for one thing. It leaves no paper trail for our loved ones to follow when we die. If we don’t keep good records that list all of the accounts that we manage online as well as the passwords and other information needed to access them, they may never be found and some of our assets may be floating around in cyberspace forever.
For more information about how to plan for incapacity or death, go to www.diesmart.com.