Managing finances has become a predominantly digital endeavor. We access our bank accounts through apps, check retirement accounts online, handle bills through autopay systems, save important records on hard drives and use third-party programs to move funds around.
This reality makes it all the more important to set up a long-term plan for a loved one’s digital assets.
According to long-held wisdom, people should never share their passwords. Estate planning may be the exception.
If you’re helping to set up a long-term plan for a loved one, ensuring a trusted individual can access digital assets once necessary is crucial. Not only can it save time, having that information handy will reduce stress and anxiety. It may also help avoid unnecessary costs in some cases.
The loved one should inventory their digital assets, and on a secure document provide:
- Relevant website URLs or apps
- Answers to security questions
- Two-factor authentication information
Basically, anything needed to access important accounts should be recorded.
Most people have not shared passwords
Through an estate plan, individuals can specify who should have access to this digital knowledge when the time comes. This type of advance planning is a good idea for anyone. However, it can be especially important if a loved one is facing deteriorating health or a condition such as dementia.
Despite the increasing importance of including digital assets in an estate plan, most people haven’t taken the simple step of sharing log-in information. According to a report from USA Today, only 36% of Americans aged 40-79 with at least $25,000 in investable assets had shared their financial passwords as part of estate planning.
By doing so, those people are helping to ensure those assets remain accessible and accounted for – while simultaneously removing a potentially stressful hurdle for loved ones.