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How Do Passwords Factor Into Estate Planning?

Butler Law Dec. 29, 2020

Password serves as keys to all manner of sensitive accounts. That’s why so many security experts suggest guarding passwords to prevent unauthorized access by third parties. Even revealing passwords to trusted persons could lead to compromised accounts. Regardless, “password” management may need to be part of South Carolina estate planning. Whether drawing up a will or declaring power of attorney, duties could become easier when the executor or agent has access to passwords.

What Help Does Providing Password Details Deliver?

During the probate process, the executor of the estate finds him/herself tasked with paying the decedent’s outstanding debts. Access to passwords could make things go much faster. The executor could access the credit card and utility accounts, for example, and then pay off the remaining balances.

An agent with power of attorney could do the same thing if the person granting the power is ill and unable to manage financial affairs temporarily. Sometimes, handing over bill-paying duties to the POA agent might be helpful when the other person leaves the country, attends school, or has other matters vying for his/her attention.

Keeping Files Related to Passwords

A safety deposit box might provide a secure location for written documents detailing passwords. With power of attorney, an agent may access a safety deposit, provided the bank housing the safety deposit box recognizes the language in the power of attorney form. South Carolina statutes detail language necessary for such instances.

With a will or even a power of attorney, an attorney might keep documents detailing passwords in the client’s file. Discussing such record-keeping issues with an attorney could be part of the estate planning process.

In an increasingly digital age, passwords provide access to crucial online accounts. Estate planning steps may need to address ways for heirs and agents to learn helpful passwords when necessary.