Nearly all of us today have a large digital footprint. We have countless usernames and passwords to accounts that range from being fairly insignificant to extremely valuable. Our accounts hold photos, music, books, games, finances, online billing, social media, seller’s accounts, and access to other various online communities. But when a person passes away, the heirs of that person may have a very difficult time accessing those accounts. Financial accounts that hold securities, liquid assets, and cryptocurrencies are likely to be of the utmost importance to heirs. Having a log or easily found record of your online accounts can save your heirs valuable time and stress from having to hunt down your accounts if you pass away. 
In a recent scandal, the CEO of Quadriga CX, Gerald Cotten, unexpectedly died from complications of Crohn’s disease. Quadriga CX is a digital-asset exchange company that holds digital “wallets” for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, and other digital assets. The company manages about $200 million in digital assets for clients. Mr. Cotten was very wary of the various potential cyber-security threats that plague the cryptocurrency industry. Because of these fears, he solely handled the banking and accounting side of the business, and was the only one with access to the passwords and keys to the accounts. When Mr. Cotten unexpectedly died, these added security measures turned into a nightmare for Quadriga CX’s clients.  All of the necessary information to the accounts are on Mr. Cotten’s encrypted phone and laptop, which is now inaccessible. The company is continuing to scramble to locate some hint as to where an offline record of these accounts and passwords may be held. Until then, nearly $200 million in cryptocurrency will be inaccessible for those clients. 
Although it is an extreme example which the majority of people will not have to worry about, the reality is that Americans have put large amounts of assets in online accounts. For many of us, we would not want all of our online books and music to go to waste simply because we have passed away. Providing your heirs with an account and password log will allow them to access and keep your property active. Likewise, many of us have income-generating accounts through EBay, Amazon, Etsy, and even through social media like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Credit cards are another important consideration. Many credit cards generate points or airline sky-miles. Not all credit card companies allow a cardholder to transfer points after death, but some allow this. If a loved one is near death, you may need to cash in these points or sky-miles before they die. The value within these accounts usually cannot be realized without the proper information to access them. 
All of these accounts need to be readily accessible by your heirs after you pass. If they aren’t accessible, they risk being terminated by the company that operates the platform, and any valuable materials within those accounts have the potential to be lost. Consider keeping a notebook or record log with your other estate planning documents, should your heirs or Executor need to find them. 
If you or a loved has yet to do estate planning or wants a second opinion on your current estate plan strategy, contact your estate planning attorney today. Peace of mind is only a phone call away.
  
Bill Hesch is a CPA, PFS (Personal Financial Specialist), and attorney licensed in Ohio and Kentucky who helps clients with their financial and estate planning.  He also practices elder law, corporate law, Medicaid planning, tax law, and probate in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas.  His practice area includes Hamilton County, Butler County, Warren County, and Clermont County in Ohio, and Campbell County, Kenton County, and Boone County in Kentucky.

(Legal Disclaimer:  Bill Hesch submits this blog to provide general information about the firm and its services.  Information in this blog is not intended as legal advice, and any person receiving information on this page should not act on it without consulting professional legal counsel.  While at times Bill Hesch may render an opinion, Bill Hesch does not offer legal advice through this blog.  Bill Hesch does not enter into an attorney-client relationship with any online reader via online contact.)