Make sure your loved ones can find your passwords

Years ago, when someone passed away, their loved ones could often access all the documents they needed with a simple key to a safe deposit box.

Now however, many aspects of people’s lives – both financial and personal – are online in places accessible only by password. This includes e-mail accounts, PayPal accounts, online banks and brokerages, automatic bill-paying arrangements, and even Facebook pages and photo collections.

When a person dies, access to these accounts and contacts can be lost if loved ones don’t know about them. Even if they do know about them, it can take a long time and a lot of work to persuade a company to turn over usernames and passwords of a deceased relative.

And it can be even harder if the relative is still alive but has become incapacitated.

So it’s a good idea in preparing your estate planning documents to let people know any passwords they’ll need in order to access these parts of your life – and to update this list regularly.

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