How much time do you spend online each day? If you’re online regularly, chances are you have at least a few online accounts. Between online banking and investing, e-mail, and social networking, it’s easy to have a laundry list of usernames and passwords.
So, what happens to all these password-protected accounts when you pass away? If no one has your usernames and passwords, it can be difficult – if not impossible – for your loved ones to access your information. The result? Online bank and investment accounts can be tied up indefinitely, and your loved ones will have no ability to notify Facebook friends and other social networking contacts of your death. And think about all the photos and records that may be stored on your computer – without the appropriate passwords, these items could be lost after you pass away.
What can you do?
It’s relatively simple. Let your executor know how to access your online accounts and other password-protected information by making a list of each item, along with the appropriate username, password, or PIN number.
Here are some items to include:
Online bank accounts
Online brokerage accounts
Your computer, if it’s password protected
Your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other social networking accounts
Your cell phone
Your blog, if you have one
Once all this information is written down, how do you keep it safe and make sure no one gets to it until after you’re gone? Keep the list with your estate planning documents, and make sure they’re stored in a safe and secure location. A fireproof safe may be a good choice.
And, of course, you’ll want to make sure your executor knows where these documents are kept.