When you are gone you’re gone. Well not quite. What happens to all your IT digital assets? By this we mean your online photos, your carefully assembled and paid for library of thousands of your favourite music songs, your online family tree research etc. If you leave your assets to your family in your Will without mentioning online accounts they may be overlooked mostly because there are no paper files or correspondece for such things as online bank accounts and they can get missed for years. Facebook and Twitter accounts are more visible but you might not want them active forever. So how do you access such accounts?
You have a password of course! The problem for many is they have been using several passwords which are not written down, across a couple of hundred web sites over the past thirty years of which there is no record.
What most people don’t realise is that many modern IT companies such as banks, Facebook and Twitter have few or no procedures for acknowledging that an account might need to be accessed by an Executor. For most companies the bottom line is that if you are not the account holder they will not give you access to the account. It’s a bit difficult if you are not around to deal with them.
So what can you do to make sure your digital assets will not be lost when you die or at the very least can be accessed by your executors?
There are free and very helpful applications like KeePass that run on Windows and Apple computers that will:
a)Allow you to maintain a database of all your other accounts for websites, banking, mobile apps protected by a password.
b)Store each record with the website name, website URL, your account name and your password.
c) Allow you to use complicated and long (known as complex) passwords if you want to, but ordinary ones as well. This software will generate complex passwords if you want to use them.
d)Be very easy to set up and maintain. Even if you are not really a “lists person”, after one week you tend to have assembled most of your websites, and after one month it will be pretty much complete. You can group entries by type e.g. Home, Work, Fun.
e)Help your memory when you sporadically buy certain products online that you mean you might end up returning to online shopping sites where you cannot remember whether you have already created an account on this site or not.
f)Store the database file using a free online encrypted storage service.
This list is, in effect, the tool that your loved ones will turn to when you die.
If you start using it, inform your solicitor that you have an accounts database providing details of what they might need to do to access it but not the actual password, and possibly consider mentioning it in your Will. Your solicitor could store the list but it isn’t always practical because the details will keep updating. What they need to know is that it exists and where to find it online. You give them with an “Unlock” question. The answer is something only your executors will know the answer to. No doubt the solicitors and executors will have to communicate with each other to gain access.
If you would like to discuss making a Will that takes into account your online existence after your death please contact me Eilísh Adams on 020 8956 2655 or me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you would like some advice on how to set up your keePass account now please contact Alex Stanier on 07910 294106 or e-mail him at email@example.com.