A spouse can die unexpectedly. That spouse can have a computer, an iPad, an iPhone, plus other technology—and no way to access them because there are no passwords. This can leave the surviving spouse in a pickle: there’s no way to get access to critical information and accounts in his name that were on autopay.
To help her crack the codes, it many take hiring a tech person, and even then, it may prove fruitless. It can also take a lot of time, says Kiplinger’s recent article, “Make Sure Your Spouse Has Your Passwords.” That article explains that getting access to key financial and estate information has always been a critical issue for women. They’re statistically more likely than men to be widowed or may have a spouse who suffers from a serious illness.
With digital records and passwords, there’s no paper trail to help you locate accounts no one knew existed. It’s also common for women of all ages to delegate key financial and estate responsibilities to their spouse.
To address that problem, women need to organize both personal and financial records. This can include vital documents, like a will, powers of attorney for financial and health affairs, a living will and perhaps a trust. Women can also get organized with other important information, such as finding the warranty for a new TV, car titles, frequently contacted services (landscaper, electrician) and other professionals, like your CPA and insurance agent.
Make sure that, with your estate planning, you also check the beneficiary designations on life insurance policies or retirement accounts. People neglect to update these, after a spouse passes away. You should also confirm that your joint bank account actually is in both of your names. Get a credit card in your own name and get a copy of each spouse’s credit reports. You should also have a copy of your will secured outside of your safe deposit box.
A way to keep track of passwords, is to use a digital password manager. As a backup, also keep a written record and store it in a place that’s secure but accessible to family members.