Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
Serving the legal needs of corporations, individuals and
families of Suffolk County since 1972

Lost passwords can cause estate planning dilemmas

Losing or forgetting an important online password is a common but minor frustration for many New York residents, but not having access to the login information of a deceased individual can cause major estate planning headaches for their heirs. The days of having one easy to remember password for all online accounts are long gone, and websites generally encourage ever more complex passwords by requiring their users to include a combination of both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

Coming up with a plan to Keep track of all of this information can be a daunting prospect, but what many people may consider to be the best and most secure solution can actually cause some estate planning problems. Banks commonly refuse access to the safe-deposit boxes of their deceased customers until they have been provided with a court order, and this can be time-consuming.

A fireproof safe may provide the best overall physical storage solution, but trusted individuals or attorneys should be told where it is located and given a spare key or the combination. Online password management services provide a virtual option, but hackers can access data stored on web servers when security measures have been neglected.

Some individuals choose to create a master password that grants access to a complete list of their login information. This password can then be divided, and the two parts can then be handed to attorneys close relatives or trusted friends. Attorneys with experience in this area may remind their clients of the importance of keeping their login information up-to-date and accessible when they meet with them to revisit and discuss modifications to their estate plans.

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