Do you have a will? Do you have an estate plan in place?
It is important to have things mapped out and lined up – you don’t want your family to be left “holding the ball” because you weren’t prepared.
And while its easy to make plans for things you can see – your antique chairs and heirloom jewelry – an increasingly important part of estate planning includes making arrangements for your online accounts. These include everything from your online bank account accesses, to your Facebook page.
Start by creating a master list of all accounts you have online, including user and password information. It may be easy for you to remember accounts and passwords now, but your family will have no idea where you have been, and what accounts you have created. Instead of stumbling upon them, or missing them all together, keep a list current so family will know exactly where to go. This is where a password manager can come in handy. There are various programs available, many free, that store all of your passwords in one location. You don’t have to reveal your “master password” – you can save that information for your estate instructions.
Then determine which accounts you want to remain open and which ones you want closed. You may want your Facebook page “memorialized” to give people an online way to express their condolences. Or you may simply prefer to have everything taken down.
Also choose an executor for handling your online accounts. Choose someone that is Internet savvy, and can handle the workload of making the necessary changes to your online accounts.
Because the online world is more engrained into our society than ever, you also have access to a variety of tools to help you manage your accounts. The website Deceased Account is a good resource for the policies of various sites when a user dies.
Over time, we’ll continue to see more policies and sites built around virtual assets. But for now, the simplest way for your relatives to move forward is to track everything you do. Not only will it make it easier for them to deal with in the future, it will be easier for you in the present as well.