Executor, Estate Planning

And to My Executor, I Leave My Passwords

What would the consequences be if, after your death, no one could access information you stored electronically? If you have protected your accounts or files with passwords, it could easily happen.

Computers have changed the way we manage our personal and financial information and often, our professional lives. Computers have also created new challenges for estate planning. Consider, for example, an on-line business left in limbo because the owner made no provision for accessing accounts. Running the business, or even making customers and creditors aware of the situation, would be problematic without access to the owner’s digital records.

Business accounts and records are not the only potential casualties. You may possibly lose personal email, address books and financial information if the decedent has not shared passwords or designated someone in his or her will to have access to the records.

Meanwhile, it is important to revise your estate planning documents to include passwords and authorize access to your online and other protected computer data.

Tips to Protect Your Digital Assets

  • Determine the value of your digital assets.
  • Give your executor or personal representative instructions for locating your digital accounts.
  • Share your passwords with the person designated to have access to your digital assets and/or include a list of your digital accounts with your estate documents.
  • Instruct your representative to delete files containing sensitive information.
  • Make provisions to renew business URLs after your death, so the business will not lose the URLs.
  • Plan for the disposal or transfer of digital assets in the same way you would for tangible assets.

Fifth Third Bank does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax adviser or attorney before making any decisions or taking any action based on this information. This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute the rendering of tax or legal advice.

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