Fraudsters target deceased – warns Law Society

An article published in the Law Society Gazette 20.10.11 by Jonathan Rayner focused on the concerns being raised by the Law Society and others about the risks of disclosing on-line bank details in wills.

The article quotes data from a survey carried out by Goldsmiths University Creative and Social Technology Centre which found in a survey of 2000 adults that around 11% had included on-line passwords for their bank accounts in their wills.

The problem arises because a will becomes a document open to the public once it goes to probate so any confidential information contained in it can be viewed by criminals intent on stealing assets from the deceased’s estate.

The answer is not to disclose sensitive information such as passwords and pin numbers in the will document. Instead, any information that the executors are going to need should be included in a separate log that is only available to the executors.

These sorts of problems make it clear that it is no longer sufficient just to make a will. The will document needs to be accompanied by additional supporting documentation such as an asset log, statements about why certain persons have not been mentioned in the will and letters of wishes addressed to the executors and trustees. It just goes to prove that there is no such thing as a ‘simple will’ any more.