With more transactions taking place, and accounts being managed, online – it has become increasingly important for individuals to do at least some element of digital asset planning as part of their estate plan.  Perhaps the most basic level of this type of planning includes having a plan in place for how to communicate what accounts/digital assets you have, and how your family, or named representative , can access them when needed.  Having a list of this access information, along with an estate plan, is important in order for your loved ones to manage your estate easily and effectively.

It is important to keep track of important logins, passwords, access keys and personal identification numbers (PINs) to ensure your family can access important online and electronic records.  However, it is also important that the manner in which these are stored is both safe and effective.  Here are some possible options:

  • Using a Safe at Home. This is an easy and effective option.  Small fireproof safes can be purchased at a relatively inexpensive price and hidden in your home.  Some safes can even be easily bolted or screwed to your floor for further security.  After you have compiled a list of access information, you can store it in the safe, in your home.  Individuals should know how to access the safe when and if they need to.  Not only is this method easy, but you will also know if your security information has been compromised.

 It is generally not recommended to use a safe-deposit box.  Many banks will not allow access to a safe-deposit box until an existing will has been probated.  If you want to store your password information in your safe-deposit box, make sure you know your bank’s policies and procedures regarding access by third parties in the event you pass away or are incapacitated.  You may be able to authorize a third party to access the safe-deposit box, but this is important to clarify with the institution you work with and understand what granting that access fully entails.    

  • Using Password Storing Systems. There are a number of online services and apps that offer safe, secure storage for your digital asset information.  This is a relatively new approach to storing sensitive information – and given the potential for risk of cyber-hacks, may not be the most secure route to take.  
  • Keeping List with Your Estate Plan. It makes sense to keep this information with your estate planning documents.  If your loved ones need to access your will, health care directive or power of attorney – they will also likely benefit from knowing account and password information.  Ideally, all of this will be kept in a safe at home, or in a locked filing cabinet.

When making a list, you will want to include login and password information for the following items.  It may also be prudent to include a description of the items – such as what type of asset/account it is, or what it contains.

  • Computers and/or laptops;
  • Email and Social Media Accounts;
  • Cell Phones and Electronic Devices;
  • Online Services (online storage/subscriptions);
  • Bank and Financial Institutions;
  • Monthly Subscription Accounts;
  • Important Contact Information; and
  • Locations of safes, safe-deposit boxes, house alarms – and access information.

Along with access information, you may want to also communicate what you would like done with certain accounts.  For example, Facebook now allows users to memorialize an account after someone has passed away.  You may wish for this account to be memorialized, or you may wish for it to be deleted – this information is important to communicate.  As the world transitions further into a digitally dominated world, it is important to keep your estate plan current, including adding important specifications regarding your digital assets.  Schromen Law, LLC provides legal counseling regarding planning for digital assets and account information along with all estate planning as part of a full and complete estate plan.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

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