Thursday, April 19, 2012
More testators are including online banking and PayPal passwords in the wills to help executors administer their estates. While some individuals may believe that the inclusion of this important information will be beneficial in the administration of their estates, the fact that wills become documents of public record can have devastating affects for beneficiaries.
Scammers in the UK have begun reading wills as they become public records and using the listed passwords to gain access to online bank and PayPal accounts. These scammers simply pay the £6 fee to the Probate Office and are then able to review wills in probate and the information contained within. According to one attorney, the best practice is to leave behind a separate document that contains passwords and PIN numbers because providing too little information on how to access online accounts can be just has harmful.
See David Walsh, Scammers Target Wills (UK) Estate of Denial, Apr. 19, 2012.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.