Estate Planning should include you online accountsSubmitted by Mills Financial Planning Inc. on August 5th, 2019
Helping you plan for and protect your assets and your legacy is something I'm very passionate about. I wanted to pass along some information that talks about an area that you can’t afford to overlook in the estate planning process.
Estate Planning 2.0 – Protecting Your Digital Footprint
The growing popularity of online commerce and social media websites and applications has created a new challenge for executors and family members when a loved one dies. As more people choose to eliminate paper statements and opt to access account information online, including online banking and credit card accounts, it can be difficult to determine the number of programs, accounts and personal sites your loved one may have established.
That’s why it’s critical for all of us to create a list of online accounts and passwords. This list should be updated as new accounts are created or passwords are changed. It should be kept in a secure location along with your will and other estate planning documents so it’s available to your spouse, adult children, or executor who will be responsible for closing out your digital footprint. Your digital footprint may include:
Social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)
Online banking, credit card, and investment accounts
Health savings accounts (HSA) or supplemental medical insurance
Utilities or other ongoing expenses set up for automatic payments
Mortgage loans (if paid via automatic draft)
Car loans (if paid via automatic draft)
Gym, country club, professional association memberships
Airline, credit card, and retailer rewards programs
Retail memberships (Amazon, Costco, etc.)
Cell phone/mobile apps
Minimizing the Potential for Identity Theft Following a Death
Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for cybercriminals to target indexed vital records, which include death notices and other matters of public record to aid in attempts at identity theft. Therefore, it’s important to close or remove as many online accounts and registrations as possible following the death of a loved one to minimize their digital footprint and the potential for identity theft. Most businesses, website hosts, and social media sites have policies in place to help you close accounts following the death of a site user or account owner. For example, Facebook allows its members to designate a “legacy contact” to manage their online profiles posthumously. Members can also choose to have their profiles deleted entirely upon notification of their death.
Typically, you will be asked to provide a certified copy of the death certificate and proof that you are the lawful representative of the deceased person or his or her estate to close an online account. In some states, you may be required to provide Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration from the Probate Court in the deceased’s jurisdiction.
Please call or email me with any questions.