Much Ado About Passwords

By Elizabeth High

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We have all likely met with the frustration of sitting at our computer trying vainly to access an account or a website for which we have completely forgotten the password — a frustrating exercise at best. Imagine the frustration for an executor or attorney-in-fact when he or she never had the password and cannot reconstruct it. Shuffled off to hours of phone customer service, with a prayer for relief that will at the least be time consuming, and very possibly futile as well, their frustration will match anything you may have experienced.

Web providers and interfaces vary in the amount of assistance and information they will provide in such circumstances. Estate planning documents should give the executor, trustees and attorney-in-fact authority to obtain passwords and access information electronically, but the task that conjures images of Sisyphus can be made somewhat less daunting by a simple, considerate step — leave a list of your passwords somewhere so your fiduciary does not have to hunt for them!

There are many different ways people choose to leave this information for their successors. Obviously, the most primitive is a simple written list, stored somewhere very safe, perhaps in a safety deposit box that can only be accessed after the executor has been appointed. Alternatively, LeBlanc & Young is happy to store password lists created by the client and placed by the client in a sealed envelope in our will vault. In addition, there are numerous electronic services that will store passwords, including Last Pass, 1Password, and Key Pass. So remember, don’t leave your executor or attorney-in-fact scrambling in cyberspace — provide them with the data they need so they may help you efficiently and free from frustration!