In the Internet age, estate planning isn’t just about making a will or setting up a trust. You probably have online accounts that your executor or relatives will need to access. But if they don’t have the password and don’t have explicit permission from you, account access could be a struggle.
Will Your Executor or Relatives Be Able to Access Your Accounts?
If you have even one online account, then at some point you agreed to user terms and conditions prepared by the company that hosts the account. These pages of legalese often include restrictions on other people accessing your account using your username and password. The restrictions may continue even after you have passed away.
As a result, your executor or your relatives may have a great deal of difficulty accessing these accounts. Simply using your username and password in your stead might violate the user terms and conditions, if they can even find your password. If they try to contact the companies and explain the situation, they might hear nothing back or simply be told that they cannot access the accounts. Fortunately, you can take a few steps now to prevent these problems.
A Balance Between Security and Sound Estate Planning
To prevent problems with others accessing your accounts after your death, take advantage of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. Illinois adopted this Act in 2016, and it applies to digital assets created in the past and in the future. The Act allows executors and other fiduciaries to access your electronic records and sometimes your electronic communications.
You must give your executor, attorney, or agent explicit access to your accounts and other digital assets, such as by including special language in your will. Also, some companies provide a method for designating an agent to access the accounts on their websites. Even if you explicitly say in your estate plan that someone can access your accounts or fill out a company’s form, fiduciaries might still have trouble gaining access without passwords and usernames.
To prevent this issue, you should make sure that someone has access to your account usernames and passwords after your death. This could be as simple as making a paper list and leaving it in your safe deposit box, or using a password manager and including the master password in your will or a document stored with your will.
Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.