Funeral directors have issued a stark warning: it’s vital that everyone makes plans to pass on all the passwords for their accounts before they die – or they risk leaving their loved ones with a major headache.
The average person has eight passwords: they ensure that everything from our bank account to our utility bills and even our music and photos are locked securely online. The trouble is that if we don’t let our loved ones know our passwords, when we die, they will be locked out of all of it.
Judith Donovan, Chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign, says one of the great unintended consequences of online billing is that without the passwords, it becomes far harder to access accounts, which can make probate a “massive issue”.
A study by Co-operative Funeral Care last year found that almost four out of five people who have tried to deal with an estate through online accounts have faced issues. Most organisations you deal with online will help once you have a death certificate, but this help may to be what you would ideally like.
If your other half is still living in your home, and you took care of all the bills, they will need the password in order to access the accounts. Without it they could be racking up debts they have no idea about.
It’s not just the accounts we know about either. Without a list of everything you hold online – alongside the passwords – there’s a real risk that savings accounts, pensions and investments may be overlooked altogether and lost forever.
Even sites that may not seem important can have financial implications. You may have hundreds of pounds in cashback or gambling accounts, you might have a balance on Paypal, or you may have live eBay purchases and sales – which the estate is legally liable for.
Personal items like photos and music that are stored online may also be lost forever, while social media cannot be updated, which can cause heartache and confusion for people who come across the account.
Then there are email accounts. Without access to those, you may miss vital communications from businesses, as well as family and friends.
So, think about passing those passwords on to your executors now, to potentially save them a major headache!