Have you ever wondered what happens to your Internet accounts when you die (or become disabled)? Assuming you've been very prudent and private with your passwords, no one will be able to login to your online accounts. Your e-mail, social media, e-commerce sites, and all other online accounts protected by an encrypted password will be completely inaccessible.
For some websites, this may sound just fine to you, but what about the others? What if some of your online accounts hold valuable information which your loved ones may need access to in the future? Can your trustee, power of attorney, personal representative, or family members gain access to your usernames and passwords? Have you told any loved ones how to access your accounts in case of an emergency? Would you rather keep all of your accounts private and impenetrable?
What Happens to Your Internet Accounts When You Die (Or Become Disabled)?
Considering how much time most of us spend on the Internet these days, learning what happens to your Internet accounts when you die (or become disabled) is incredibly important. Many of us use online accounts to manage numerous facets of our lives. Whether you use online banking, online bill-pay, or receive e-mails with paperless bills, it is important your loved ones are able to access these accounts so they can manage your bills, debts, and assets during your disability or after your death. In today's technology-dependent society, considerations like this are often overlooked despite their gravity.
It is important you create a detailed plan which outlines what bills are paid automatically, what bill statements are received electronically, and what the passwords and usernames are for any online accounts someone (your trustee, power of attorney, personal representative, loved one) may need access to should anything happen to you. This information should be kept with your estate planning documents, along with a list of instructions detailing how to manage these online accounts when you are no longer able to.
Another option is to manage all of your login information in one secure, password-encrypted location. This way, if someone does need to handle something electronically on your behalf, they will only need access to one password, which will allow them to gain access to all of your other online information, accounts, passwords, and secure information.
One example of a company that performs this service is Lastpass.com. Using Lastpass, you can store all of your usernames and passwords on one secure site that is always accessible via the cloud. You only need one password to access all of your stored information and, best of all, you can use the most simple version of Lastpass for free! If you choose to go this route and store all of your login and password information on a single site, then all you will need to do is make sure that your agent knows how to gain access to the single password you use for the site. This can greatly simplify the process of sharing online information, as you won't need to give someone an entire list of logins and passwords!
So what happens to your Internet accounts when you die (or become disabled)? Whatever you would like to happen!
However, you must plan for it ahead of time. This is an ever-growing and ever-important area of estate planning and we hope that you will give it some thought. If you have any questions about the process or if you would like to schedule a review of your estate plan, please set up a no-cost consultation with the attorneys at Parks & Jones. We would be happy to help.