As more and more of us use online banking facilities and receive paperless statements, identifying the assets of a relative after their death is becoming increasingly difficult. Recent press reports have highlighted a growing tendency for online passwords to be included in wills in an attempt to address this problem. This is not always advisable as any member of the public can obtain a copy of a will to which probate has been granted.
We would instead recommend that clients leave a sealed letter containing a list of assets and any relevant access information such as passwords to email accounts and social networking sites with their wills. For added security, you may wish to avoid keeping these at home.
We offer a will storage facility for wills which we have prepared on behalf of our clients for which there is no additional charge. If there are letters lodged with a will these will not be opened by us and will be passed to the executors or other addressee upon production of a client’s death certificate and their own identification. All you would need to do is to let relatives or friends know you have made a will and that it is stored with us.
This is of course not the only reason to consider making a will. Without a will, your assets on death will be distributed as prescribed by law rather than by your personal choice. This may have unforeseen consequences such as leaving out an unmarried partner. Depending on circumstances, a spouse or civil partner may not inherit your entire estate.
This article should not be taken as a full statement of the law. It should be regarded purely as guidance and is no substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be accepted by Wiseman Lee LLP. © Wiseman Lee LLP 2011.