How Two-Step Verification Impacts Estate Planning

Navigating Digital Legacies

In today’s digital age, our online presence encompasses a significant portion of our personal and financial lives. From social media accounts to online banking, our digital assets are as important as our physical ones. 

As security measures evolve, two-step verification has become a standard practice to protect our digital information. However, this added layer of security introduces new challenges in estate planning. It is important to address these challenges when developing a comprehensive estate plan.

Understanding Two-Step Verification

Two-step verification, also known as two-factor authentication (2FA), requires two forms of identification before access is granted to an online account. Typically, this involves something you know (a password) and something you have (a code sent to your phone or generated by an app). While 2FA effectively secures accounts against unauthorized access, it can pose significant challenges after the account holder passes away.

The Challenges in Estate Planning

Accessing digital assets after the death of an individual can be a major issue for executors or heirs if two-step verification is enabled. Without the necessary credentials and access to the second authentication factor (the code), valuable digital assets and important information can remain locked away and impossible to retrieve.

There are legal complexities involved in accessing someone else’s digital accounts. Laws such as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) offer guidelines, but the presence of 2FA can complicate compliance. It’s important that estate plans specifically address the authority to bypass or disable these security measures.

To manage these digital legacies effectively, a specific plan must be in place that documents all digital assets and ensures secure, yet accessible, storage of login information and instructions for disabling 2FA.

Steps to Mitigate These Challenges

When establishing a plan to manage your digital legacies, a detailed list of all digital assets should be created and regularly updated. This would include login credentials and information on each account’s two-step verification setup.

Additionally, you must ensure your will, trust, or power of attorney includes explicit instructions on how digital assets should be handled. Appoint a digital executor if necessary. Use secure methods, such as encrypted digital vaults, to store sensitive access information that your digital executor can access.

Since digital assets and security features change rapidly, it’s crucial that your estate plan is regularly updated to include these changes to maintain its effectiveness. Similarly, you must ensure that your executors and heirs are aware of and understand how to handle your digital legacy, particularly the challenges posed by two-step verification. That means not only documenting the changes to access, but also any new steps or policies that online companies employ to protect your digital assets. 

Don’t Leave Executors and Heirs Locked Out of Your Accounts

We understand that estate planning in the digital age requires adapting traditional practices to address modern challenges. By considering the implications of two-step verification and planning accordingly, Nickerson Law Group helps our clients secure their digital and physical legacies for their heirs. 
For professional advice tailored to your unique digital estate planning needs, contact us today. Schedule a 15-minute complimentary call and let’s discuss how to prepare your executors and heirs to safely access your digital legacies to fulfill your estate plan.

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