Most people today have numerous online accounts. Likely you do, too. So, what happens to your online digital life when you pass away?
Our digital lives include email accounts for work and personal use, bank and investment accounts, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and maybe even our own blogs (you are reading one right now) or website. If you check the respective privacy policies, then you will notice that most hosts will not give out any information about your accounts without your prior permission and some will not give out information without a court order.
As reported in a recent New York Times article titled “How to Digitally Avoid Taking It to the Grave,” if you do not plan ahead regarding how someone else can access your accounts after you pass away, then you risk the loss of those accounts.
Accounts you would want to carry on might disappear. It depends on the policies of the sites where you have accounts. Some states have passed laws granting executors access to digital accounts after the owners pass away and there is an effort underway to pass a uniform law in every state.
Teaching point: until the law catches up with today's current digital environment, you need to have a plan.
At a minimum, you should make sure that a list exists of your digital accounts. You should make sure someone will be able to find the passwords for those accounts.
You also need to store that information somewhere it can be found by someone you trust.
This could be done by including that information in your last will or trust, but that could make updating the digital information cumbersome on a practical level. You could also give that information to a trusted individual before you pass away. You do not need to tell them now what your passwords are. You just need to tell them where to find the information.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: New York Times (July 2, 2014) “How to Digitally Avoid Taking It to the Grave”