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Solving the Password Problem with Digital Estate Planning

April 22, 2019

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 12:59 pm

In the digital stage, estate administration requires going one step further and ensuring that you have an appropriate strategy to share the passwords to your email and online accounts as well as your computer. Things can get complicated for your personal representative, estate executor or family members if you haven’t thought this process through.

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Many people today receive financial statements electronically. Increasingly, plenty of people have dozens of online accounts as well and many of these have different passwords in order to decrease the chances of identity theft or being hacked. Having online access to investments and other financial details is a convenience of living in the modern age.

However, many of these sites now require complex and comprehensive passwords to access these online details. This can create unintended consequences and difficulties for an executor who must be able to gain access to each individual account in order to distribute those assets to trustees or heirs based on the language listed in the decedent’s will.

This even played out recently in a news story when the CEO of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange passed away suddenly without having ever shared the password to the cold storage locker for that exchange. This meant that the nearly $200 million in crypto currency assets were completely inaccessible and investors might never be able to see those funds again. Sharing your passwords and documenting them in a safe and secure manner is an important component of the estate planning process.     

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