A couple of years ago I logged on to one of my social media accounts and encountered a familiar face under the People You May Know section: a talented professional, a good friend, and loved by her family and many friends.   She was also deceased having passed away a few years earlier.

Yet there she was, smiling at me just like she did in life.  But it wasn’t just a social media account that survived her. There’s her personal blog, and her work website profile – actually she left her footprints in several places on the internet. Her family struggled to deal with that portion of her estate because they did not have ID names, passwords, or account numbers – as a result, they did not have access to her digital estate.

What can go wrong: Your loved one may have died leaving photos and videos in digital format or, had locked essential financial or other information, OR online financial accounts with money that must be transferred into an estate account.  Or credit cards or Airline points, which are a digital asset of the estate.

Each year, the personal information of more than 2.5 million deceased people is abused by identity thieves, according to ID Analytics. 

Data of the dead:   Downsizing includes the organization of your records, both tangible and intangible.  Downsizing deals with this now, before you die and leave a mess of locked-down digital assets.

There are key things for you to do  

Inventory your digital assets. That includes the documents on your computer, photos, documents, the contact information on your cell phone, data stored on thumb drives, hard drives, email accounts, and online accounts, including those no longer used.

Assign someone to be your digital executor.   The best way to ensure that your digital assets pass into the right hands is to share them and your login data with your executor. Decide now, Be explicit about what you want to happen to your digital assets. Do you want your family to have access to all your emails, photos, videos, and other files you’ve downloaded? There may be some things you don’t want your loved ones to see.

Don’t assume your heirs automatically have a right to it all, because the law varies from state to state. Contact your attorney for the correct language and information that will be included in your will or a codicil.

Do you have a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, or Medical Power of Attorney: If you are one of the 50% of all Americans that don’t have these legal documents; it’s time to go to an attorney and have them drawn up.

If you are the Executor / Administrator / Trustee, DON’T close telephone, email, or internet accounts until the estate has transferred monies, obtained the estate information, or even until the probate of the estate is completely closed.  Emails, photos, and financial information is often deleted or disappear into digital space, and cannot be recovered. 

How To Plan: 

Research all Social Media requirements.

Google lets you plan for your digital estate ahead of time. Using Inactive Account Manager,” you can designate a beneficiary who will inherit access to any or all of your Google accounts after a specified period of inactivity (the default is three months).  The beneficiary will then have an additional three months to download your data before it gets pulled offline for good.

Facebook   Once a family member has passed, you can ask Facebook to either delete the account or “memorialize” it, removing it from features like birthday reminders or People You May Know. You’ll have to provide proof of death via certificate; to download content from the account; you’ll need to obtain a court order.

Other online accounts allow you to request that a deceased person’s account be closed after you obtained the usage of points, data, or general information and after you provide a death certificate.   

Some accounts allow you to fill out a DocuSign form, digitally sign it, and email it in.

Banks: Talk to your bank manager and broker; insert their instructions into your Digital Inventory.

You can ask to close the account of a deceased loved one, such as Airlines and credit card accounts but obtain usage of the points, you may have to mail it paper copies of your fiduciary certificate, the death certificate, a copy of the obituary (if you have one), and proof that the account actually belongs to the decedent if his ID name doesn’t match his legal name.

Amazon or Apple, offer no way to officially close the decedent’s account unless you have their login information. (An Amazon spokesperson says you can close the account of a deceased family member by contacting Amazon customer support.) Also, you can’t bequeath any of the music, videos, eBooks, and other digital materials a deceased customer paid for. That’s because you don’t actually buy these things, you license them; your right to them expires when you die.

Don’t place login information in your will as those documents become a public record, allowing anyone to gain access to your accounts.

Instead, indicate a secure place where you place your will, ensuring your digital executor can find them; such as a safe deposit box or your home safe.  (don’t forget to let them know where to find the safe key or code.)

Online storage offers another option. A password manager lets you designate a “digital heir” who will inherit access to your Password Box account — and, by extension, all the logins contained in it.

It can also store your credit card, driver’s license, and membership card data and let you securely share your logins before you kick. The advantage here is that if your passwords change or you add accounts, your information is always up to date. 

It makes good sense to have a professional service provider assist you – MOVING ON! SERVICES.   First visits are always free.

Call for your appointment!

Moving On! Services   www.movingonservices.com

Tel: 757 393 1622

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