Let Your Online Identity Rest in Peace After You Die

June 18, 2021
Let Your Online Identity Rest in Peace After You Die

After you pass away, will your online identity haunt Facebook, Twitter, and other social media? What if your heirs need to exhume your bank account to turn off auto-pay on your bills but do not have the login information? Here is where a digital asset inventory comes into play.

For everyone’s peace of mind and financial security, any accounting of your estate should include digital assets: email, social media, and financial accounts, plus the vast array of online publications, chat groups, professional organizations and other sites that hold the story of your life. A digital asset inventory will enable your family to quickly close or update your accounts without a lot of red tape from account institutions. It may even help prevent problems like fraud.

It can be a tedious chore – which makes it a good candidate to put one together as a Father’s Day gift if your dad is online a lot – but it’s too important to neglect.

4 Reasons You Must Create a Digital Inventory Now

  1. To Lighten Your Heirs’ Burden
    You’ll save your family hours of frustrating phone calls and letters by enabling them to just sign on to your accounts as though they’re the account holder. Your bank will probably be able to give them your login information, but not without a lot of back-and-forth communication.
  2. For Financial Protection
    If no one has stopped your auto-paid bills, subscriptions and other accounts, it could cost your estate unnecessary expenses. In addition, manually paid accounts may charge late fees or hefty interest if your heirs aren’t aware of them. They may be able to get these costs refunded after some negotiation – but maybe not.
  3. To Minimize the Chance of Identity Theft
    Fraudsters are just waiting to pounce on your identity and sell it to another scammer. The longer it takes your family to change or hide personal information, the faster these con artists can access it.
  4. To Protect Your Memory
    Your social media accounts probably contain priceless photos, letters and other mementos that you want to be preserved as your legacy. Enabling your family to access and save them will prevent them from being lost forever.

How to Include Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

Be strategic in how you organize your digital inventory:

Take Your Time.

The bigger your digital footprint, the longer this will take. Start by simply jotting down each online site you visit for the next week. Gather the site names and website addresses, along with your login information. Include any password hints you’ve set up. Continue the process for a few more weeks until you are satisfied you’ve caught everything.

A digital password keeper can make this task a little easier and will also help you to create safe passwords. You can find many good ones in any app store.

Keep It Simple.

Use a simple Excel spreadsheet or even just a plain Word document. You don’t need a fancy design. What matters is that the information is simple and easy to understand.

  • Proofread Carefully

Test the sheet to be extra sure the logins are accurate; you could have typed one of them wrong.

  • Limit Access.

Give the inventory sheet only to your Personal Representative (person who is listed in your Will to handle your affairs) or close family members that are computer savvy. And make sure you grant that person written permission to access your accounts and update login information. This will help if an institution requires written approval for anyone else to access your account. It also will minimize problems if you have forgotten to include some information and your representative needs help to access it.

Make your digital afterlife a little easier on your family. For help compiling a digital assets inventory before you pass away, contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954)251-0332 or info@ocestatelawyers.com We will start with a free phone consultation. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian.