Recently, the spouse of one our clients passed away due to complications associated with the COVID-19 virus. The night before being admitted to the hospital, he had been using the computer, and shut it down when he went to bed for the evening.
After he passed away, his wife attempted to log in to the computer, but realized that she did not know his password. She also realized that all of the financial information and other important documentation was on the computer, and that her husband had not maintained offline notes about how to access any of the accounts.
What would you do if you found yourself in this situation?
The first step is to call the estate planning attorney that set up the will, trust, and estate plans. He/She can then engage a Computer Forensics Specialist to recover the information on the computer that you will need to access this documentation. This process is typically related to the digital assets portion of the estate plan.
4 Tips To Be Proactive
- Meet with an Estate Planning / Elder Law attorney to develop an Estate Plan. This should include a Will, Trust, and both a Medical Power of Attorney and Financial Power of Attorney forms.
- Review the Digital Assets area of the Estate Plan. This is where the directions are placed to allow your designated individuals access to your computer, email, financial information, etc.
- Use a Password Keeper – There are several free products to use that will allow you to manage your computer/internet/bank passwords. Once setup, print off an Emergency Sheet with the login ID & password and keep with your Estate Plan documents.
- Document all computer passwords and store with the Estate Planning documents. This is specifically important if the computer is encrypted as without the proper password to unlock the encryption, all the data on the computer would be very difficult to recover.
When an untimely death occurs, people usually do not think about passwords or financial information until days or weeks later. Using a trusted Forensic Specialist who can recover this information can be one of the keys to moving forward.
Founded in 2003, ELIJAH is a multi-award-winning leader in providing expert digital forensic, data security solutions, and managed IT. ELIJAH is owned and managed by former litigation partners and is an efficient boutique digital forensic, cybersecurity and IT solutions provider that makes clients’ lives easier through effective communication and white glove service. For additional information, please visit https://www.elijaht.com or call 866-354-5240.