When is the right time to share passwords?

We’ve written many blogs about the importance of getting your affairs in order for physical things, like property or cash, in the event of your death. However, we’ve also seen how digital assets are causing more and more of a headache, because quite often these are simply “forgotten”

In a recent blog we highlighted all the assets you might hold online, from National Lottery online accounts, to Facebook, eBay and much more. There’s even the slightly more unusual things like Air Miles and whether or not you have the right to inherit those.

According to recent research by the Law Society just 26% of respondents knew what happened to any digital assets after their death. Only 7% said they had a full understanding and had made provision in their will - however an overwhelming majority (93%) had not included any digital assets in their wills at all.

Of course, we would never condone sharing passwords with anyone you don’t know, but it might be time to consider how you can safely store your passwords, so loved ones can access any online assets. With technology now such a big part of our lives - even more so during the pandemic - we really need to be thinking about how digital assets should be included in our estates after we die.

There was a recent article in the Times about a couple who sadly lost their 36 year old son after a sudden illness. In sorting through their son’s estate, they found that he had a large amount of cryptocurrency they were left unable to access as they didn’t have the passwords.

Again, cryptocurrency may not be something we’d think of straight away but it is so important it is included in a will along with other online assets. Whilst it may still seem like a fairly alien concept of some future generation, popular crypto-curency provider, BitCoin, has 7.1 million users - and 5% of the whole American population have it. The costs of not including it in a will are huge. According to an article on the BBC News website recently 3.8 million Bitcoin, worth up to $30bn (£22.8bn) today, has been lost, with much having gone to the grave with holders who failed to tell anyone how to retrieve it.

This isn’t a situation that necessarily applies to young people, or technology. We’ve also written blogs on partners who traditionally let one person in the partnership handle the finances so if that spouse passes away, it makes things really difficult for the other.

The only way around it is to make sure you keep a list of all investments, as well as access information, such as links to login dashboards, usernames and passwords. Keep them all somewhere that can be easily accessed by attorneys and executors, either in the event of your death, or you become unable to manage your affairs yourself.

If you would like some advice about writing a will, updating one, or more information about nominating an attorney to look after your affairs via Lasting Power of Attorney, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office

Email: l.dalgetty@downslaw.co.uk