Hopefully you have a living trust and/or will along with the other legal documents (power of attorney, healthcare surrogate and living will) needed in case of disability or death. But have you also made preparations for the orderly transfer of your digital assets?  Who knows where to find a list of the websites and passwords needed to reach these assets?

Just what are digital assets? While it certainly includes all of the hardware (computer, tablet, phone) we use, it is really more about the information that is stored at the various websites. How does one access your bank accounts, bill payments, credit cards, frequent flyer information, governmental records, email accounts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon and other shopping accounts, pictures on the computer, iPad, or at a website, etc.?  What needs to be closed?  Can any of these assets be inherited, or do they vanish?

While technology makes our life easier today (who remembers phone numbers anymore), it can make life very difficult in the case of mental incapacity or death.  The first thing your executor will need is the list of websites and passwords to your digital life. If you are like a lot of people you have a list somewhere, but will they know where to find it? Do you have it in some type of code that no one else would understand?

One of the tools that we use personally, and that we recommend to clients, is a password app for your smart phone or tablet. We are not endorsing any of the three apps below, as you should do your own investigation, but perhaps this will get you moving in the right direction.  In short, by using these apps you, your power of attorney, or your executor has access to all of the websites and passwords by simply knowing one password which will open up the app itself.

1Password, LastPass and eWallet are the ones we hear about most often, but there are many others.  Generally, these can store an unlimited amount of websites and passwords and can also store credit card numbers for online shopping.  Each of these will automatically fill in the login information when you click on the website. With the need to change passwords on a regular basis most of the apps will do this for you if you choose to do so, and the passwords they generate are probably stronger than the ones you create for yourself. 

Further, there is generally lots of room to make notes within the apps and sometimes a place to store pictures. If you have the app on one device it can often automatically be transferred to other devices.  Sometimes for an added fee which is usually small you can have family folders, two factor authentication and greater storage space.  You want to make sure that whichever app you use that it has high security and AES 256-bit encryption makes security at a bank level.

Be sure to visit with your attorney to make sure that your legal documents will give your attorney-in-fact and/or executor access to your digital assets. Although there is a uniform law that has been developed to assist with digital assets, it is not available in all states. Unless you have tried to settle someone’s estate, you do not know what a pain these assets are without the proper documentation.

Another place where you could store passwords, as well as other important items, is at the on-line vault we provide to our clients. Have you ever been out of town on business or vacation and needed access to your legal documents? Did you ever want to check on other important items that were at home when you needed them somewhere else? These are but a few examples of what you can store in your personalized vault as one of our clients.  If you would like to learn more, please call us to schedule a complimentary consultation.

The information herein is general and educational in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Tax laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change.

Investment Advisory Services may be offered through ProVise Management Group, LLC.

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