If you are planning to add Digital Assets to your Estate Planning document, you might probably be wondering if you should include passwords in your Will? In this post, we explain the ways in which you can make arrangements for your Digital Assets through a Will.
Without a doubt, the arrival of social media accounts and the movement of banking to the web has been extremely beneficial in storing and tracking different kinds of data, from financial records to personal videos and pictures. Everything on the internet – banking records, social media accounts, etc. – is secured through passwords, data encryptions and other ever-evolving security developments to ensure the safety of important documents and information.
But what happens to this data once you die? How will your family be able to access it?
Before the internet, accessing data was simpler – even in the absence of a Will. Today, however, ‘digital trails’ have replaced traditional ‘paper trails’, making estate planning difficult even with a Will.
Does this mean you should add passwords of your online accounts in your Will?
The simple answer is, no. More often than not, Wills tend to go public after the death of an individual. It is suggested that you create a Digital Will for your Digital Assets with a separate document enclosing account details to avoid making them public.
How to protect your Digital Assets?
Create a Will for your online accounts
Digital Wills are essentially Wills for your Online Accounts. Unlike Traditional Wills, Online Wills are stored and managed on digital servers on the internet. In these, you can typically assign an executor who would deliver access to your social media and online accounts to your beneficiaries, as per your wishes.
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Try digital estate planning services
Just like how you create an Estate Plan for your tangible assets, you can create an Estate Plan for your Digital Assets – also known as Digital Estate Plan. You can safeguard your Digital Assets by making arrangements as to what must happen to them in case of your demise or incapacitation.
The steps involved in creating a Digital Estate Plan are:
- Make a list of all the online accounts you have created
- Make a record of the usernames, passwords and security Q&As. You cannot include this record in your Digital Estate Plan but you can make use of a Password Manager to store your login information or store this record in a Digital Vault and give access to your family members.
- Leave instructions as to what must happen to these accounts in case of your demise or incapacitation.
- Appoint a Digital Executor to handle your Digital Assets as per your wish
- Talk to an attorney and get your Digital Estate Plan attested
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Go the traditional way
Another option, which is widely used, is to keep a written record of the usernames and passwords to your online accounts. However, this method is also most prone to security risks. Storing these papers away in a safe deposit box can help you tackle these risks. But, this also means accessing the information becomes inconvenient when it needs to be updated or remembered.