When we think about estate planning, we immediately think about how our wills and trusts will protect our physical possessions, our home and our money. But what about your Facebook account, your email, your twitter accounts or even your web site? (For those Facebook addicts.... who will make sure your Farmville crops get harvested when you are no longer able to tend your farm?) But seriously, even if you are not hip with the latest social media, almost everyone has some forms of online account such as email, bill pay, maybe even a dating site membership. All of these accounts have user i.d.'s and passwords. Does anyone else know this information or at least where you store this information in the event that something happens to you?
It is not always easy for someone to just call up Yahoo and ask them to close out an email account. Many internet providers consider this information to be private and will not just send you the passwords without legal authority. Google mail requires a copy of a death certificate, copy of a power of attorney or birth certificate and an email sent front the account you are trying to close. With MySpace, the account dies with the person.
So what is the solution? Keep a file of all your log in information on a flash drive or stored on your computer somewhere but name the file something unique... not "passwords". Give a copy of this to a trusted individual, your agent, successor trustee, executor, family member, etc. When you add log in information or change passwords, be sure to update that file as well. If you prefer not to give this file to anyone else, keep it in a safe or safe deposit box, but be sure to let someone know it exists, and where to find it.
Having a Power of Attorney is a great tool as well, but most powers do not specifically provide for the power to access internet and/or email accounts. Therefore proper drafting is important. I have created a provision specifically for just such a situation for my clients.
There are also companies out there, such as Legacy Locker, which acts like a safe deposit box for your log-ins, account information, etc. They also provide personalized instructions to survivors as to how you want your online identity handled.
Websites are another issue you may have to consider. If you have a website, what happens to it when you die? You can actually leave your website to a beneficiary - especially if your website provides you passive income, this could be a valuable asset you will want to protect with your estate planning.
So as you can see, estate planning has a variety of new issues to consider when planning, so meeting with a trust and estate attorney who is current on the latest web based media will put your estate plan one step ahead of the rest.
When we think about estate planning, we immediately think about how our wills and trusts will protect our
So as you can see, estate planning has a variety of new issues to consider when planning, so meeting with a trust and estate attorney who is current on the lastest web based media will put your estate plan one step ahead of the rest.
For more information, call Amy Alvis, Esq. at Alvis Frantz and Associates A Professional Law Firm (925) 516-1617, email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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