Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

Estate Planning: Passwords

I remember paying my monthly bills before the internet.  I would once a month, gather the stack of bills, write out a check for each one, enter it into my check register, put the check and the payment stub into the envelope, put on a stamp and mail.  Sometimes, this took a couple of hours.

Now, most bills are automatically debited from my checking account or are charged to a credit account.  For the few that do not have this feature, I go on line to the creditor, click a “pay amount due” button and the payment is made.  This now takes a few minutes per month.

This is great!  But not if you become disabled or die without leaving a roadmap.

How would your family know which bills are automatically debited? and from which account?

How would they know if the bill is automatically charged to a credit card?  and to which one?

How would they know which bills need to be paid by going to a website?  There is no notification received in the mail.

Once they go to the website, how would they access your account information?  What is the user name?  the password?

Where are your bank accounts?  What are the user names and passwords for those?

While this is a great convenience for those of us who love the on-line ease of bill paying, this is also a nightmare for agents under a Durable Power of Attorney or a Personal Representative or Trustee.

For this reason, it is vitally important that you leave a listing of all accounts, including the name of the institution, its website address, your account number(s), the user name and passwords.  Also, you must list whether the billing is automatically paid, and from what account.  If a bill must be manually paid, that must be listed as well.

These lists must be kept up to date when you change your passwords.

Finally, if you have a password to get onto your laptop or desk computer, that needs to be written down as well.  Put this information in a secure place, but tell your agent(s) and family where the information is so that it can be accessed in the event of need.

Leave a roadmap.