How many passwords do you have? I have so many entrees to the digital world that take me to so many password-protected places now that I can’t remember them all.
I have no trouble remembering the ones that I use every day. I don’t need to ask the computer to remember those passwords.
However, the usernames and passwords that I only use once in a while escape me from time to time.
I have them all written down in a secret place so that I can refer to them when necessary.
But if someone should discover my secret place and make out the relevance of all those usernames and passwords, I would become a key target for identity theft.
The fact remains, however, that there are some sites one accesses more than others. Naturally, the usernames and passwords for sites that are accessed only occasionally will slip from memory.
Now here’s another computer conundrum. How do you protect your digital identity after you pass away?
In a recent column for Slate magazine, authors Naomi Cahn and Amy Zietlow state that most Americans will likely access “more than two dozen password-protected sites on different computers and smartphones.”
If your mother pays all her bills online and does all her banking online, how will you deal with those creditors should she suffer a stroke and enter hospice care if you don’t know her usernames and passwords?
What do you do if you mother will not voluntarily entrust those usernames and passwords to you while she is still mentally capable of doing so because she does not trust you due to some family controversy?
This is not merely the stuff of soap operas or even Dr. Phil. Families are ripped apart by fights over assets every day.
I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect you don’t have the right to access those usernames and passwords while Mom is still of sound mind.
Then there are the digital items of more sentimental value. Suppose Mom has a Facebook page or a Tumblr account chock full of photos of the grandkids because she wants to share them with her friends.
If you don’t have access to those accounts, hard copies of the photos, or other cyberspace ways to access the photos, you won’t have them for your digital memory collection.
Do you want to entrust your
passwords to one of the online password managing companies? If so, it probably will cost you a fee.
But how do you know you can trust them?
Should you put your usernames and passwords in your will?
That’s up to the individual, of course, but you’d better be sure you can trust your lawyer and your heirs not to use that information in ways you would find objectionable.
Confusion over what to do after a loved one has become
incapacitated or passes away is part of the grieving process. But devious people have been known to take advantage of that process.
We’d better make some digital decisions before they are made for us because cyberspace will still be here long after we’re gone.