Accessing private information

Personal privacy is a triggering issue for most Americans. They don’t want the government, business or people they don’t know to go rooting around their lives.

The privacy issue takes on a different face when it comes to a loved one, especially when technology, such as cellphones and computers, is involved. 

In cases of death, getting access to information is vital to executors of wills and survivors. Unfortunately, passwords for phones, computers and other devices are not always shared with family members. There is information that is important for survivors to access and finalize the affairs of their loved one.

Information regarding financial accounts, on-going payments and more can be locked away forever without the cooperation of the companies that maintain cellphones and online accounts such as social media sites. Without a password, survivors are locked out of accessing information.

Providing access to secure accounts is not an easy step. Companies must manage their liability, they cannot just open accounts to those who say they are survivors. There has to be stringent steps to assure that those gaining access are the ones who, without question, have the right to access.

Ideally, spouses would share their passwords. Baring that, one option is to legislate who, and how, someone gets access to a deceased person’s private information.

Any legislation would have to be written succinctly including providing immunity from civil action to companies that provide access on good faith. No amount of legislation can account for the actions of humans. Things never get so complicated and irrational as when a person passes. 

The death of a spouse or loved one is devastating enough without the added complications of trying to wrap up their lives.  — LAZ