The Importance of Password Protection in Estate Planning

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As more of our lives and businesses move online it is increasingly important to keep digital security and privacy at the front of mind. Most people are aware of the importance of having a secure password. Websites will prompt you to add more characters, uppercase letters, numbers and special characters and yes this is a very important for your online security. However, the worst thing you can do with your password is something that more than 50% of people say they do, and that is reuse the same ones across multiple sites. The danger in this lies in the fact that if even one of those accounts is compromised in a data breach, it does not matter how strong your password is—hackers can easily use it to get into your other accounts.

The reason that people rely on reusing the same password is the simple fact that it is hard to remember so many different passwords. The best solution to both of these challenges is a Password Manager. Password managers do not just store your passwords — they help you generate and save strong, unique passwords when you sign up to new websites. That means whenever you go to a website or app, you can pull up your password manager, copy your password, paste it into the login box, and you are in. Often, password managers come with browser extensions that automatically fill in your password for you. The easiest way to think about a password manager is like a book of passwords that you keep locked away with only one master key that you know.

From an estate planning perspective, password managers can also offer a way to ensure your loved ones and/or your executor may have access to your secure accounts after you pass away. A growing number of products include some provision for a digital legacy, a method to transfer your logins to a trusted individual in the event of your death or incapacity. This is sometimes done through the designation of an emergency or legacy contact or sites will allow access to specific individuals after a period of inactivity.

Having a secure plan in place for your digital assets, particularly financial information can save your loved ones and/or your executor a lot of time and hassle in what will already be a very difficult time.

You may now be asking yourself which password manager you should use. The simple answer is that it depends on your needs. There are a variety of good options, and all password managers largely perform similar functions, though some will have more relevant features than others.

1Password, Dashlane and LastPass are all widely used and reputable companies with each also having options for ensuring your digital legacy. These options are a good place to start in your research, but we are not endorsing any one option and we would encourage you to do your own research in order to find a product that best suits your needs.

Online security can be easy to put off and can sometimes feel like something abstract. The important thing is to be proactive when considering the safety of your accounts and to not wait until something goes wrong before taking action.

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