During the estate planning process, most people focus primarily on making sure their children are provided for, and they give little thought to their digital accounts. But people often underestimate just how much of their lives take place online these days.
Most companies refuse to give family members access to online accounts even after a death has occurred because of privacy reasons, which means you need to plan ahead of time for how these accounts should be handled.
Here are four specific reasons why you want to make sure to address your digital accounts in your estate plan, which were discussed in a recent news article:
Bills that are managed online could be forgotten about and result in negative consequences for your survivors. If no one has access to your online financial accounts or email for bill notifications, they can easily go unpaid and your survivors could end up with late fees or worse.
Important possessions and documents like photos, work or unreleased creative endeavors may never see the light of day. If no one has access to your computer or the online accounts where these documents are saved, it is possible that they could be lost.
You identity could be stolen. Worse than your digital life being lost is if it were to be stolen by hackers who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Private or embarrassing secrets or accounts could be exposed. Many people have things online that they would not want revealed to the public, so it’s important to have a plan in place regarding how these accounts should be treated.
Earlier this month we discussed how Facebook and Google now make it easier for users to select people to manage their accounts posthumously. This is just one of the issues that you will want to discuss with your estate planning lawyer.