Online Data & Other Digital Properties After Your Death?

What have you done to insure that your family and heirs will have knowledge of and access to your various online accounts? Does someone you trust know all of your passwords for your online accounts?

With an increasing number of our important information, financial information, photos, music collections and similar information being archived only on our computers or online or “in the cloud” how do we insure that it is all available to our family and heirs after our death?

This is a new area of the law and not many states have established laws that address this new area of probate law. What can you do to insure that your “digital assets” end up where you want them to be upon your passing?

First prepare an inventory of all of the websites that you frequent together with your log-in name and password.

Second, specify in your will where your executor can find the list. It would be unwise to list that information in your will for several reasons; your will becomes a public document upon your death and log-in names and passwords often change.

The most important area for this task is your online financial information. Obviously bank accounts and investment accounts should be listed but do not forget to list the on line services that you use to access that information such as Mozilla, Yahoo, or Internet Explorer.

Email accounts and social media accounts are governed by the lengthy, small print, legalese- studded Terms of Service agreements that we all agree to but rarely read. Some email providers deem your email account to be terminated upon your death. Other providers allow you to designate the beneficiaries of your online accounts. You may wish to examine your email provider’s agreement to determine how you wish to proceed.

Music accounts, e-books, photo sharing accounts, and blogs may not be yours to allow your heirs and friends to inherit. Many of these types of accounts only give you a license to use the download or the service during your lifetime. It is best to review each of their Terms of Service agreements.

MICHELLE STANISH

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