News Story
Posted by Transylvania County on March 8, 2021

Create a digital estate plan:

 

When one of my loved ones died, she had an address book with contact information for everyone in her life.   But digital assets are not as easily taken care of as physical assets like this.  And most wills today don’t include what to do about online accounts.  So, you may want to consider creating a digital estate plan.  This is something that your loved ones could access in the event of a death. 

 

The first step is to discuss with your loved ones what accounts they use.  You may not think that your 90-year-old mother uses TikTok, but you may be surprised.  Just have an honest conversation about what accounts they have.  Then create a list of logins and passwords that can be shared with a trusted person at the right time.   Keep in mind that in many states, a will can become a public record.  Therefore, you never want to include login or password information in the actual will. 

 

Terms and conditions:

 

Reading the fine print when creating an online account is something most people never do.  But you may be giving away any claim to your online information.  For instance, Apple’s iTunes accounts expire upon the user’s death.  So, if your parent spent thousands of dollars building up their iTunes library it would all go away.  And while an iTunes account may not be a priority, what if the cloud storage your parent used did the same thing.  All the family photos could be gone forever. 

 

The point is to read the fine print for critical online accounts.  Ask the company what happens to the data if the account holder passes away. 

 

The bottom line is this: online accounts represent a huge part of many people’s lives.  And when a person passes away, families must deal with the task of figuring out what to do with all the data.  If a deceased person kept their credentials private, then getting into their online accounts can be tricky.  But when ignored, these online accounts can appear active even after the user's death.  So, right now is a good time to create a digital estate plan. Sit down and talk about it with your loved ones.  Also, if you have old online accounts that you never use, then delete them permanently. 

 

Source: Jason Hanson, Security Specialis