Electronic Information and Estate Planning

An Important Component of Your Estate Plan Should Be a List of Logins and Passwords for Your Online Accounts.

Recently, I read an article that brought up an interesting, and I think, important estate planning issue: if you were to become incompetent and need to rely on another to assist you with you financial affairs, would that person have any idea how to access your online accounts?  This caused me to start making a mental inventory of all the online accounts that I use daily, weekly or monthly to manage my finances and communications.  The number of logins and passwords for all my online accounts added up quickly.  It became clear that it could be very difficult for someone to do something as apparently simple as paying my month bills without knowing how to access my online accounts.

For example, my wife, Nicole, and I don’t receive through the mail paper statements or bills from utilities or other providers – everything is delivered electronically to Nicole’s email, if at all.  We pay all of our monthly bills online, directing our bank to issue checks or make electronic payments when monthly bills become due.    For some types of bills, we have set up automatic payments that happen each month on a particular day.  When an automatic payment is made, the bank emails a confirmation to Nicole’s email address so we know the payment has been made and the amount of the payment.  For other types of bills, the process isn’t totally automatic.  When a bill will shortly become due, the bank sends a reminder to Nicole’s email account and then we log into our bank account online to manually authorize the payment through the website.  We then receive a confirmation through Nicole’s email when the payment is mailed to the provider.   In order to confirm that a payment was properly received and applied to a particular bill, we access our online account with each provider.

Does your spouse or significant other know your online accounts and how to access them? If you were to become incapacitated, would your family know how to access your financial account and information? By having this information with the rest of your estate plan documents, your family will know where to find it when needed. They can then help:

  • Locate any accounts you have online
  • Access those accounts or the information in those accounts
  • Distribute or transfer any assets to the appropriate parties
  • Avoid online identity theft

If you need assistance with your estate planning needs, contact the attorneys at Mountain View Law Group today for a free consultation. (801) 393-5555