Over half of millennials are responsible for executing their parents' wills, but hardly any have access to their parents' online passwords

End-of-life decisions are hard to face. Although two in three millennials have a will, only two in five have a clear view of their digital accounts.

As COVID-19 spread, many American millennials finally began their estate planning. Yet, many of them do not have the correct digital information if their parents pass on, according to new research from Toronto -- Canada-based security and privacy company 1Password.

In partnership with digital estate planning companies Trust & Will and Willful, it surveyed 1,000 American millennials aged 25-40 years old for its Great Wake up Call Report.

It wanted to discover how this generation favours securing important documents and passwords and storing and transferring digital assets before and after death. 

Over two in three (68%) of millennials do not have a will, and under two in five (38%) of millennials have provided clear guidance on how they'd like their digital accounts managed after they die.

The report shows that although almost three in four (72%) of American millennials had wills that were created or updated in the past year, only 3% of those wills included online passwords.

Traditional ways of securing important documents still dominate our behaviour. More than four in five (81%) of millennials say they keep important paperwork, like their birth certificate, in a physical location such as a filing cabinet, safe, or safety deposit box.

For online security, over half (51%) of respondents say that they store their passwords by memory, and 25% store their passwords on a piece of paper. 20% of respondents use a password manager.

Over half (57%) of American millennials believe giving their executor access to their social media accounts is more important than access to their email, subscriptions, or shopping accounts such as Amazon or Target.

However, sharing credentials to banking/financial accounts still tops the list of priorities (67%).

Millennials still have to have difficult conversations with their parents. Over half (52%) of respondents admitted to never talking to their parents about a digital handover or cannot remember the conversation.

Six in 10 (63%) of respondents who have executed wills said it was harder than expected to access accounts of the deceased.

Although over half (51%) will be responsible for executing their parent's wills, only one in three (36%) of respondents know or have access to their parents' passwords for their online accounts.

When asked how they have shared passwords, two in five (41%) said via a written list, followed by 39% verbally and 25% digitally via email, cloud Google Docs, PDF, or a similar platform. The irony is sharing passwords is increasingly critical to granting loved ones access to your digital legacy when you die.

Jeff Shiner, CEO of 1Password, said: "Millennials especially are facing the brunt of these shifting pressures, as they're balancing responsibilities for their own growing families while also caring for ageing parents. Transition plans have long been a taboo topic, but it's time to destigmatize these discussions and ensure our digital lives are in order, so the responsibility doesn't fall on others."

The COCID-19 pandemic has made us think more deeply about our mortality, but how can we make sure that we ensure a smooth handover of our estate -- especially those digital platforms where we spend more and more of our time.

According to the report, descendants of those millennials surveyed would lose access to an estimated average of $22,500 due to mismanaged wills.

Creating a way to manage that digital handover means that those authorized to act on your behalf when you die can make sure that your wishes are carried out in full.