How family can access your accounts when you die

It's something no one wants to think about, but everyday someone dies without leaving their passwords behind, making things very difficult for their loved ones.

Posted: Jan. 4, 2018 12:54 PM

It’s an uncomfortable subject to speak of, but it will affect everyone at some point: A loved one dies without sharing their passwords to social media accounts, email accounts or the log-in password on their computer.

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Without those passwords loved ones may never be able to access and shut down those accounts or log onto the computer. As our digital footprints get larger it’s imperative that we find a way to share those passwords without jeopardizing the security of those accounts.

How is this possible without hiring a lawyer?

Fortunately there are websites and services that intend to solve the problem. Dead Man’s Switch is the latest company to try this.

Here’s how it works: Set up an account and choose up to 3 people who’ll receive a message from you after you pass away. You can write a note, leave the secret code of a safe, your passwords or just a message you’d like to leave with them.

When you die, the people on your list will receive it through an email message. It begs the question though of how does a website know someone has died. How does it know when to send out the messages?

It checks on your health from time to time. Dead Man’s Switch will send an occasional email message to the person signing up for the
service. The email basically asks “are you still alive?” If you do not reply after a couple of attempts, the website will send out the messages to the contacts you've chosen.

Dead Man’s Switch advertises that the messages are never read by anyone with the company and are encrypted to prevent someone from seeing or stealing them.

Still, I’d suggest the following: Rather than including passwords in the message give directions to how a loved one can find
those passwords. Write them down on a sheet of paper and put it inside a book. In the message sent by Dead Mans Switch, tell your loved one which book and which page you hid it away.

Look, this is something no one wants to think about, but everyday someone dies without leaving their passwords behind, making things very difficult for their loved ones.

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