In response to our article: Death To Passwords: How Microsoft & Google Want To Kill Passwords, Marylyn wrote: “If they do away with passwords, how is an heir to get into a deceased parents’ computer?”
That’s actually a great question in light of the push towards replacing passwords and PIN codes with biometric alternatives. With companies like Google and Microsoft working on everything from pills with tiny electronics to tattoos to an app that would recognize you by the unique way your blood flows through your veins, it’s a legitimate concern.
It’s important that you make access to your online accounts, social media, and e-mail part of your estate planning and make sure the people looking after your affairs have all the necessary codes and passwords to settle your online affairs.
I found a very handy PDF form on an estate planning site that allows you to list phone, computer and social media account log-ins and passwords. Click here to check it out and print it off.
Some companies, like Facebook actually allow you to designate someone to handle your account after your death. One would assume that other companies and services will eventually follow suit and if you contact them with the proper codes and proof of death, they will unlock accounts for you.
Currently you can substitute passwords or pins with fingerprint recognition on iPhones and iPads and facial recognition on Windows 8 and Android devices.
Fortunately, all of these devices usually include a back-up method of authentication that can also be used to open the device. The good news is that I found similar questions about the affects of biometric passwords on several sites about estate planning, so that means the lawyers will be asking questions and insisting that companies put procedures in place.
This biometric password stuff is still in the beginning stages when it comes to wide deployment. It turned out that Apple’s breakthrough monitoring system on the Apple Watch that was supposed to make it a one-step authentication device that recognized you by your heartbeat and blood flow doesn’t work if you have a wrist tattoo. So there’s work to be done.
It’s all a work in progress and I promise to keep you informed of what happens next.