Pass on passwords before you die or family will be locked out of accounts, funeral directors warn

Funeral directors are urging people to keep a record of all their internet accounts and passwords so loved ones can retrieve photos, music and savings after they die. As more and more aspects of our lives are managed online, The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) says unless provision is made for passwords to be passed on, personal items stored online could be lost forever. Millions of photographs are now stored online. Others have hundreds of pounds worth of music and films in online accounts while bank accounts and savings are in password-protected accounts.

SAIF says access to funds could be delayed if no provision is made to pass on online banking details after someone’s death. Social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter could also remain inactive for years after a loved one’s death if passwords are not shared or clear instructions left. It has launched a campaign urging people to leave instructions, alongside their wills, on how loved ones can access online accounts. In a booklet, which has been sent to 870 of its funeral directors, it gives advice on safeguarding digital legacies. It states: ‘Worrying about social media accounts after we have died may seem trivial to some people but, to others, that carefully honed Facebook page and those precious tweets may be a gift for their loved ones. ‘Of course, social media is only the tip of an ever expanding iceberg. What about your online banking accounts and savings? The money in them will go into the ‘pot’ with other bank accounts, but the problem is that whoever is dealing with your assets might not even know they exist and they are not going to get a paper statement through the post to alert them to your digital stash.’ It advises people to keep a log of online investments, including passwords.

The Law Society has also urged people to maintain a list of online accounts to make it easier for family and leave clear instructions about what should happen to their social media, computer games and other online accounts after their death. It recommends a Personal Assets Log, which includes a list of online accounts but no passwords or PINs. It has been revealed that more than £30billion of digital goods bought through iTunes and Amazon could vanish when their owners die. A number of firms now offer customers the option of including a ‘digital will’ alongside a traditional one designed to tie up their affairs on the internet. They can include instructions on how to close down accounts on social networking sites such as Twitter or delete emails or photos on Facebook.

(Source: The Daily Mail)