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Password lists are increasingly important in estate planning

When preparing estate plans, there are many documents one might think to prepare. At the top of the list may be asset lists, contact information for beneficiaries, POA documents and a will. But increasingly, one other document is becoming an important part of the estate planning process: the password list.

Digital estate planning is a new consideration for many, but it can be deeply important. Even less tech-savvy people may have online points accounts, email, social media or simply a password-protected computer. The fate of these accounts after passing away can depend largely upon the information and instructions left to the executor.

When building a password list, be sure to think about the following accounts:

  • Email accounts
  • Website memberships
  • Social media accounts
  • Financial or point-collecting accounts

The benefits of making a list of passwords are similar to the benefits of any planning. Simply put, it saves grieving loved ones from unnecessary hassle or stress when dealing with affairs after death. Another reason specific to digital assets is that, without a password, it may be difficult or even impossible to retrieve emotionally or financially valuable assets or content. Different websites have different policies on what happens after a user passes away, which can make this a particularly challenging area to manage without a list of passwords.

Those who are concerned about making a list with such sensitive information do have options. High-security password managers are one option. Another is a spreadsheet protected by a password that is provided in a will.

A California estate planning lawyer can help individuals explore which options may work best for them, with regard to this and all other planning documents.

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