Ask LH: Should I Leave A ‘Password Will’ For My Loved Ones?

Dear Lifehacker, I nearly became road kill on the weekend when a bus zoomed past me while I was crossing the road. This close brush with death got me thinking: should I make a will containing all my digital passwords? My loved ones will obviously need to access my bank account if I die uexpedtedly. They might also want to look over my emails, social media accounts and other online services I subscribe to. Do you recommend this, and if so, what’s the safest way to go about it? Thanks, Splattered Password Angel

Password image via Shutterstock

Dear SPA,

Your immediate family members shouldn’t run into too much trouble when dealing with banks. Financial institutions have special policies in place to make the transferal of funds relatively painless.

Generally, the nominated family member will need to show the bank a certified copy of the Death Certificate along with the will or a letter of administration granted by the Supreme Court. Once the bank has taken any money it is owed, the account will be closed and the remaining funds released to the family member in question.

In other words, there’s no need for your family to access your online bank account after you die. In fact, this could potentially land them in trouble if the will is contested by another family member or there are unpaid debts owed to the bank.

Commercial online services can be trickier. Some companies, including Facebook, have dedicated procedures for deceased person’s accounts. However, most do not provide login information under any circumstances which makes transferring ownership exceedingly difficult. Naturally, if the service in question has no customer support in Australia, the process becomes even harder.

One option is to sign up to LastPass’ “Emergency Access” feature. As its name implies, this gives nominated users the ability to unlock your password manager during select emergencies, including your death. They’ll then have instant access to all the passwords and logins they need to manage your accounts. You can read more on how this feature works here.

Of course, storing all your passwords in the cloud presents it’s own risks, but provided you have two-factor authentication enabled (and your family has access to your phone) it should be a pretty foolproof system. The alternative is to store your handwritten passwords in a safe — just make sure it’s a good one.

We also want to hear from readers on this. If you have any recommendations or solutions to this very modern problem, let SPA know in the comments section below.


Have a question you want to put to Ask Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


6 responses to “Ask LH: Should I Leave A ‘Password Will’ For My Loved Ones?”