Most of us now have an online presence, whether it is very basic, i.e., email and Facebook, or we do almost everything online. From autopay to online banking to our social media profiles, our estate plans must evolve to cover handling these online accounts upon our passing. The laws in each state regarding digital assets vary, and all are late to the game. This often leaves survivors at a loss. Here is a checklist of things to consider:
- Make sure your Executor or a trusted person knows where to find passcodes for your computer, tablet, e-reader, and phone; if you use an online password manager or “vault,” make sure they have the key to access that tool or in the event the password manager has the option name that person as the emergency access contact.
- Maintain an updated list of all online accounts and logins for your Executor
- Provide access to all your email accounts for monitoring, then closing (note: if you have old accounts you no longer use, you should close them now)
- In some cases, you may specify how you want your email accounts handled upon your death or after a period of prolonged inactivity. If you do not want anyone to have access to your accounts, your Executor or trusted friend may request the accounts be closed following the terms and conditions outlined by each provider. Google allows for a designated person to have access to an account if there’s a certain period of inactivity which can be selected within the inactive account manager.
- Remember to provide locations of physical keys for safe deposit boxes, fire boxes, file cabinets, etc.
Banking, Insurance, and Retirement Accounts
- What bills do you pay from e-mailed statements? In the past, your Executor would have put in a forwarding order for your mail and resolved any outstanding bills as they came in. This process must change with paperless billing.
- Which bills autopay monthly or annually from your bank account or credit card?
- Do you have automatic deposits or transfers set up? List those. Do you have online “wallets” like Venmo, PayPal or similar apps?
- Cryptocurrency is designed to be secure, so if the keys are lost, so are your funds. Leave instructions on where the funds are stored (hot or cold wallet and specific apps or location of the USB drive) and the access key.
- Ask banks and insurance companies to close out online access when you provide the death certificate.
- Check to make sure your beneficiary selection is current on each of your banking and retirement accounts. You can update these online with many providers.
Social Media Profiles
- Note which social media accounts you currently have. Include things like Nextdoor, LinkedIn, Classmates, Pinterest, and dating online dating services. If you have accounts with tools you no longer use, close them now.
- Facebook has added Memorialization Settings for you to identify the person who will be allowed to handle your memorialized page (they cannot take any actions on past history). If you prefer, you may choose to have Facebook close your account upon your death. Instagram also allows for a memorial page, though at this writing there is no tool for the account holder to give instructions; instead, Instagram will note birth and death dates on the account on receipt of the death certificate.
Online Shopping/Recurring Orders/Auto-ship Accounts
Many of us have auto-ship or auto-renew enabled for a variety of services. Share the list with your Executor so they can be sure to cancel all of these. Consider:
- Online pharmacies
- Pet food, grocery services, or food delivery services (Hello Fresh, Home Chef, etc.)
- Memberships set to auto-renew (AAA, AARP)
- Software subscriptions (Microsoft Office 365, Google, etc.)
- Home security services (hold until the home is sold, if appropriate)
- Magazine subscriptions
- Netflix or streaming subscriptions
Owned Online Assets
- Video/photo sharing (for family assets, see if there is an option to invite others to join your account – you do not want these assets lost!)
- Do you own any web domains for business or personal use? A blog or vlog? These may be in an account with GoDaddy, Network Solutions, or another provider). Some of these sites permit you to give administrator access to a second party. If the domain is for a business that will continue after your passing, this may be a good option.
- Do you own any Intellectual Property, computer code, trademarks, or copyrighted materials?
Other Online Access
Providing a full list here would be impossible but keep a record of any other online accounts you have and keep it current. Again, if you have accounts you have not used recently, consider closing them. Other common accounts:
- Pet microchipping (update this information ASAP; pets may be confused after the owner’s death and more likely to run away)
- Online Medical Records
- Mortgage, HOA
- Online education logins
- Job sites like Indeed or ZipRecruiter
- Airline awards programs
- Video games
- Online file storage
- Tax software
- Petition sites like Change.org
- Ancestry sites
Credit Reporting/Fraud Prevention
Make certain to send copies of death certificates to all three credit bureaus, the Social Security Administration, and the IRS. This will help ensure scam artists do not steal your identity after your death, leaving your loved ones to deal with the fall out.
One Last Note
We do recommend you provide the name and contact information for your estate planning attorney with the instructions you have compiled based on this list. Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns.
Need to learn more? Contact one of our expreinced attorneys at Brinkley Walser Stoner today to schedule an appointment.