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A different type of social security

In this digital age of internet banking, social media websites and digitally stored photos and music; when someone dies or becomes incapacitated difficulties in accessing digital assets are becoming more and more common. Social media sites, in particular, can be upsetting for family members when messages and comments, sometimes cruel, are left on the Loved One’s page.

The personal representatives or attorneys need to be able to access secured information in order to deal with what, in many cases, are valuable assets, whether sentimental or monetary.

It is important that the issue of passwords is addressed at the same time as making a Will, or, in the preparation of a Lasting Power of Attorney. The Will itself is not the appropriate place to store details of passwords which are usually changed regularly, new accounts opened, changed or added.

When providing instructions for a Will and/or Lasting Power of Attorney, the lawyer should be provided with a detailed list of all digital assets, including bank accounts, shareholder accounts, pensions and/or policies, with the passwords for each account, in the form of a memorandum which can be stored with the Will and/or Lasting Power of Attorney.

Alternatively, the password list can be stored in a safety deposit box or other secure place to prevent anyone gaining access to this information whilst the Testator/Donor is alive and capable. However, in this case, it is important that the details of the place and access codes for the safety deposit box are provided to the lawyer so this information can be kept securely with the Will/Lasting Power of Attorney.

If this procedure is followed it will reduce delays and upset when it is necessary to access digitally stored assets and information.