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Keeping your passwords safe for your estate

Online passwords are becoming increasingly necessary to include on wills and trusts. These passwords do not just link to your Facebook or email accounts, they can access your financial history if you chose to pay most of your bills and plan your estate online to avoid any hassle with paperwork.

After death, you need someone who can access your accounts to inform contacts of your passing and to access any important digital assets you want transferred to friends or family. Any slight misinformation or misspellings could make those assets uninheritable, so you must create a system to ensure that someone you trust can access these passwords.

Update any changes to your passwords.

Some might feel the need to change their passwords every couple of years to avoid someone hijacking their account and information. Even if you are not one of those, certain sites require you to change the password on an annual basis without allowing you to go back to previous variations in subsequent attempts.

Regardless of which one is more applicable, you need to include these changes wherever you choose to store your passwords. You do not want to leave your attorney or heirs with outdated information.

Have a physical copy of your passwords.

Many individuals have copies of their passwords saved onto their computer or online storage units like Dropbox. It allows them to simply open another document or tab and copy and paste the password if they forget for a site.

However, your computer and Dropbox also require separate passwords. Some are also hesitant about an online document with personal information in fear of hackers. In these cases, you can write down or print these passwords on a separate sheet of paper. If you do not want this sheet accessible in your home (in case of home intruders), you can place them in a safe deposit box or give them to one of your trusted heirs for safekeeping.

Plan your passwords carefully.

There are different approaches towards passwords. You could have all of your passwords be the same code or something similar with slight variations if you want an easier time remembering them. You might want drastically different passwords if you want to avoid any potential hackers from stealing your information.

You should keep your estate planning in mind when determining these passwords. If you want to give most or all of these passwords to one heir, it might make managing all of your digital assets easier for that person. However, if you want to spread these codes among different people, having the same passwords means one heir could correctly guess the password for a site you did not want them to have access to.

Keeping your passwords updated, safe and selectively accessible is crucial towards planning your digital assets, so you must create a system that does all of this while maintaining your preferences. Estate plans are imperative in protecting your online accounts.

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  • Richard P. Johnson is Board certified Texas Board of Legal Specialization Estate Planning And Probate
  • Wealth Counsel
  • The College of the State Bar Of Texas Professionalism Through Education
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The Johnson Firm, P.C.
2400 Lakeside Blvd.
Suite 120
Richardson, TX 75082

Phone: 972-587-7545
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