If you pay bills and bank online and handle much of your financial activity there, your agents under your durable power of attorney, or the executor of your will, or the administrator of your estate must have access to that information in order to manage your financial affairs when you are no longer able to do so.
Even something so seemingly simple as canceling a deceased person’s account on a social networking site such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, may be extremely frustrating and heartbreaking for a fiduciary who doesn’t have the username and password combination to access that account.
Most security officers of websites will allow access with proper documentation, such as a certified death certificate and certificate of appointment from a probate court, appointing someone as the fiduciary of the decedent’s affairs. However, when someone becomes incapacitated, the guardian or conservator who needs access to the information is often blocked by the website’s privacy officer, who may require a specific order from a judge. In fact, some credit card companies and other vendors will also not allow a fiduciary to have access without a specific court order.
This may all be prevented by taking a few simple steps right now.
It is critical to trust at least one person with your “sacred” information regarding passwords. A perhaps preferred option is to place this information in a sealed envelope and keep it with your original will and durable power of attorney at your attorney’s office. As passwords are changed and new sites are added to the list, this envelope may be updated or substituted.
You may not wish to share private login information with anyone during your lifetime, but in the event of incapacity or death, it is vital that this information is available to those who will handle your affairs. This information may also remain private simply by telling whoever will be responsible for your financial affairs the login name and password for access to your computer and that there is a document there with all of the necessary information.
Another option is a company called Legacy Locker. It provides family members or fiduciaries safe and secure access to account information in time of need. Confidential information will be preserved in one place and only distributed under emergency circumstances. Fees are generally charged annually or as an upfront lump sum for your lifetime.
It is likely that safeguarding this private information is going to be an integral part of preparing an estate plan in the future. This will provide piece of mind so you can be assured that your personal information will remain confidential until it must be accessed by someone responsible for handling your affairs.