Will Your Estate Have a Password Problem?

We live in the digital age. Having online access to investments is a great convenience. But the downside is that they can create a very difficult situation for a surviving spouse or executor trying to find the deceased’s assets.

What is the first thing you are told about any password? Don’t write it down. This can create unintended consequences for an executor who needs access to each account in order to marshal the assets and eventually distribute those assets to the heirs or trustees based on the language contained in the will.

When the founder and CEO of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX, died unexpectedly, nobody else had the password to the exchange’s cold storage locker. That cut off access to investors’ $190 million in cryptocurrency.  Those investors may never see their funds again. This is a an eye-opening example of how the security system designed to keep hackers out of an account can work against the owners of funds.

Estate administration in the digital age requires having a strategy to share passwords to your computer, email and online accounts. Without that, things quickly get complicated.

Option #1 Give your passwords to a trusted family member.

This is probably the easiest, but least secure way. They will need passwords to access your computer or smartphone. They will also need a password to access your email — which is where electronic financial statements are traditionally sent. This creates a potential security issue and also doesn’t provide the trusted person with access to each individual financial platform, which would require each of those passwords to be written down or somehow saved and communicated to the trusted person. Many computer operating systems now save passwords to frequently visited websites, so it is possible that if a trusted person had access to your computer, they may also be able to gain access to your financial accounts.

Option #2 Write down and place all passwords in a safe deposit box.

Your executor or guardian/attorney-in-fact through a power of attorney can access your safe deposit box and your passwords to access your computer, email and financial platforms. This option is somewhat safer than simply writing down and providing passwords to a trusted friend or spouse. But this means you have to be diligent about updating the password list. People rarely keep such printed out lists updated. But if you’re disciplined enough to do this, this might work.

Option #3 Use a digital wallet.

A digital wallet is the most secure and by far the most recommended way to safely and securely store passwords. Like a real wallet, a digital wallet keeps track of all your passwords across all your devices and does so in an encrypted file in the cloud. With this, the only hurdle is the password with which you access the digital wallet.

This would require that you keep a record of the master password somewhere, or perhaps you can agree with your spouse or trusted friend on a pattern of passwords. That could be anything that the two of you can easily remember, along with perhaps a few other characters. It will need to be something that can be remembered and not written down. Writing down and saving passwords should be avoided if at all possible.

This article is a service of attorney Myrna Serrano Setty. Myrna doesn’t just draft documents, she ensures you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why Myrna offers a Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Call our office today to schedule a Planning Session. Mention this article to find out how to get this session at no charge.

Call (813) 514-2946 to schedule your Planning Session.

What Happens To Your Facebook Account When You Die?

Will your Facebook account haunt your loved ones after you’re gone? Without proper planning, your post-mortem Facebook presence can haunt the loved ones you leave behind, with harmful results.

If you’re active on social media, Facebook is probably a big part of your life.  Does social media seem trivial to you? If you think about it, your Facebook  account is basically a virtual diary of your daily life, making it a key part of your legacy—and one you’ll likely want to protect.

Since about 8,000 Facebook users die every day, the company has created a few options for dealing with your account once you’re gone. While it’s possible for you to take care of this on your own, many people are working with legal professionals like us to incorporate these digital assets into their overall estate plan to ensure their legacy is properly preserved and protected.

Here are your options:

  1. Do nothing.

Unless Facebook is notified of your death, it assumes you’re still alive, and your profile remains active indefinitely. While this might not seem like a big deal, your profile will continue to be included in Facebook searches, “People You May Know” suggestions, and birthday reminders.

Your friends and family likely won’t want to be constantly reminded of your absence, and even worse, ex-friends and/or trolls will be able to post potentially hurtful messages on your timeline.

  1. Delete the account.

In your settings, notify Facebook that you’d like to have your account permanently removed from its servers upon your passing. Alternatively, a friend, family member, or your executor can make the same request after your death. This will completely delete your profile and all of its associated content from Facebook for good.

Also, one of these individuals can request that your account’s content be downloaded and saved before the profile is deleted. Content that’s eligible for download includes wall posts, photos, videos, profile info, events, and your friend list. But Facebook won’t allow any third-party to access or download your personal messages or login information.

  1. Memorialize the account.

Facebook lets you designate a family member or friend as a “legacy contact” to manage your memorialized account. This contact will be allowed to pin a final message to the top of your timeline, announcing your death or providing funeral information. The contact can also respond to new friend requests and update your cover and profile photos. The legacy contact won’t be able to log in as you or see any of your private messages.

Preserve your legacy.

Since social media and other digital property are such an important part of your life, you should work with us as to ensure that these assets are protected by your overall estate plan. We can help you name a digital executor, who can quickly and easily manage your Facebook account and other social media upon your death. We can also help you inventory all of your other digital assets and make certain they pass to your loved ones seamlessly.

Furthermore, through our Family Wealth Legacy Interviews, we allow you to create a customized recording, sharing your values, stories, and life lessons with the loved ones you leave behind. Our estate plans include a Family Wealth Legacy Interview component. That’s because your estate planning is about more than just your STUFF. It’s also about your real wealth: your values, your insights and your experiences. Contact us today to learn more.

This article is a service of the Law Firm of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. We don’t just draft documents, we help you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Planning Session,  during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (813) 514-2946  to schedule a Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge.

 

 

 

Crypto Currency – What Happens When You’re Not Around?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Bitcoin. What you may not know is what “cryptocurrency” means, and how it affects your estate planning. Maybe you’ve even got yourself some Bitcoin, but haven’t given thought to what would happen to your digital currency in the event of your death or incapacity. As a new technology, cryptocurrency can be a bit confusing, and few law firms are talking about this yet.  But we are!

Today’s article will dive in with some initial thoughts, and then we’ll get deeper in future articles.

  • If you had purchased $100 of Bitcoin in 2010, you would have over $4,000,000 today.  Let that sink in.
  • There are now over 800 digital currencies available, though Bitcoin is the most well-known.
  • Each one operates a bit differently, and with a different purpose.
  • What they all have in common is that they are digital currencies, in the form of “tokens” that you can now buy (or invest in) and in some cases use to exchange for goods and services.

For example, more and more providers of goods and services are accepting Bitcoin as payment method, just as they would cash or credit. A few are even  accepting the lesser known currency called Ripple (XRP).

For today, I want to cover what you need to have in place to ensure that if you become incapacitated or die, and you are holding digital currency, you will be prepared.

Unfortunately, if you have not planned for the transfer of your digital currency at the time of your incapacity or death, it could literally be lost to the ethers. And, if you invested in Bitcoin back in the day before it got popular, that could potentially be millions of dollars lost to your loved ones.

There are two things for you to consider if you are holding digital currency:

  1. Do your loved ones, or whoever you would like to leave your digital currency to, know that it exists?
  2. Do they know how to access it and cash it in or hold onto it?

If you are holding your currency in an exchange, such as coinbase, with 2-factor authentication, it could be very difficult for your loved ones to access your currency. (And if your loved ones can’t access your iPhone, there’s other problems too (see our article about digital access)! We offer our clients access to a cloud-based digital account administration system.  Having that in place would allow the executor of your estate to handle all digital accounts, not just crypto accounts. But if you prefer the traditional route, store that information offline.

Here’s the thing, if you lose those codes, or your loved ones can’t find them, it’s the same as all of your currency being gone.

You can read more about the different storage options for cryptocurrency here.

Bottom line: if you have cryptocurrency and you want your loved ones to have it after you are gone, you should probably call us so we can make sure it’s not lost upon your incapacity or death. As one of the first law firms actively tackling the crypto-currency issue, we want to make sure our clients are ahead of the curb on this as well.

This article is a service of attorney Myrna Serrano Setty. Myrna doesn’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Call our office today to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge.

Learning From My iFailures

 

Our lives are on our smartphones.

The data we keep on them has great sentimental value because they’re every parent’s primary way of capturing precious family memories, such as videos of an adorable child singing pop songs in the car. But our smartphones also store other sensitive information that is valuable to hackers, like passwords and financial information.

What happens when we don’t have access to our smartphones for an extended period of time? (Or if something happens to us and someone else can’t access something important on our phones?) We feel powerless. We might even freak out.

Recently, my iPhone broke. I had dropped the phone too many times and it was on its way out anyway. But I wasn’t ready. I thought I had more time. And worst of all, I discovered that I had underestimated the impact of its sudden failure and overestimated the extent of my digital backup for my family photos.

While I have systems in place to protect my work-related information, I had gotten a little lax on preserving items on my personal smartphone. In doing that, I risked losing access to cherished family photos and other sensitive information. I also uncovered another issue, two-factor authentication. Many websites have two-factor authentication, with a text message going to your phone when you try to log in from a different device. If you have to access a website or re-set a password, not having access to your text messages is a big problem!

Fortunately, my phone was repaired and the most that I suffered was some inconvenience. And I vowed to share this experience with you, because what I experienced as serious implications for family disaster planning.

Ask yourself these questions to evaluate your risk of iFailure. 

  1. Does your spouse know the passwords to your phone and computer?
  2. If you have an app that saves your passwords, where is your backup located? Who else has access to the main password?
  3. Do you routinely move your photos to the cloud or other storage methods? If so, who else has access to those locations?
  4. Which of your devices are set up to receive text messages or two-factor authentication when you’re logging in from a new device or changing a password?
  5. Have you changed your telephone number in the past year? If so, have you updated all of your accounts that require two-factor authentication?

This article is a service of attorney Myrna Serrano Setty. Myrna doesn’t just draft documents, she helps folks make informed and empowered decisions about their life and death, for their sake and their loved ones. That’s why Myrna offers a Life and Legacy Planning Session, during which you’ll get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling her office today at (813) 514-2946 to schedule a Life and Legacy Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge