Virtual Life After Death

Many of my blogs over the past few months have been about keeping your data secure and bad actors from causing you a data breach. If you have been listening, by now all your data should be encrypted, and all your log-ins new and strong.

Today I wish to address one instance when you need to give someone easy access to all your data – Death or Disability. Even if you are a young person, don’t overlook the fact that life is uncertain. A car accident can kill you or put you in medical coma. Without the ability to access your online accounts how can a third party manage your affairs? Giving someone access to your online accounts is a must, and you should address this issue NOW.

If you have a Will, and you should, it speaks at your death concerning the beneficiaries of your assets. One asset many people forget is their online assets. Your Will should contain a clause specifically giving your social media accounts to someone who knows your wishes as to their disposition. ( e.g. Do you want a memorial page on Facebook, or just having your site removed.)

Furthermore, your Last Will and Testament will name an executor to conclude your financial affairs, and divide up your assets. In the old days (like 10 years ago) it was easy for the executor to find your assets. All they had to do was collect your mail for a few months and they would find all your bank accounts, credit card statements, insurance policies, etc.

However, today, with most of us using online statements and payments, it is no easy task for the executor to find your assets because the information is stored in your email accounts. If they cannot access your electronics, particularly your computer and your phone, they are going to have a very hard time finalizing your affairs.

Most of us have many dozens of web sites we access – with many dozens of passwords. I, myself, keep a folder (with an unlikely name) of sites and their associated log-in information. But without being able to log into my computer this information is useless to your executor.

Therefore, I have gone Old School. In a desk drawer I keep an “Open Upon My Death” letter where I have written down the log-ins for my computer and phone, and directed the reader to my log-in folder. For greater security you might consider putting this letter in a safe deposit box.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss these important issues.