What Happens to Digital Accounts When You Die?

Facebook login screenSocial media is great, since it lets you can connect with faraway friends and family.  MP3s and online television networks like Hulu and Netflix are fun as well, since they give you the opportunity to enjoy music and television programs on any device and on your schedule.  Of course, let’s not forget about how great email is. Write a message, hit send and it’s off.

Have you ever given any thought to what will happen to your digital accounts when you die?  Like most people, you probably haven’t given much thought to your digital accounts, since it isn’t a physical thing or even an asset.  Still, it is something that you need to consider because your online accounts don’t just disappear when you die. According to Intel Security, the average person has 27 different logins.  Yikes! That’s a lot of passwords to manage, so it would make sense to set up a plan for your digital assets after your death.

The first thing you need to do is have a document drafted by your attorney authorizing companies that hold your digital information to disclose the information to your executor or other representative.  This authorization can be included in your will, so that your executor can request a copy of the contents of your digital accounts.

Once you have done that, you can also do the following:

1. Make a list of Passwords

If you haven’t already done so, make a list of your all your digital accounts from email to social media and everything in between. It is a good idea to write this in an address book or type your passwords and put them in a binder. While there are online services that will save passwords for you, it is better to go the old fashioned route since online services can be hacked, making your confidential information vulnerable. Also, if you keep your information in a computer without printing it out, your executor can’t get a hold of it.  Paper will allow people to access the online sites you use with a minimum of trouble.  Be sure to list your username, passwords and the security questions and answers (i.e. Where did you attend school in the third grade?). Also, if anything should happen to you and you become incapacitated, family members can have a way to access your accounts to make such there is no unusual activity.

2. Don’t Overlook Social Media

Since Facebook and Twitter are the most used social media sites, I will focus on those. If you have an account on Facebook, you can have your account memorialized, meaning that people can post messages, but no one can access the account. In addition, you can request the removal of a loved one’s account from Facebook.  You need to provide Facebook with a scan of the death certificate.  If you don’t have the death certificate, Facebook accepts a power of attorney, birth certificate, Will or estate letter. You can learn more by going to Facebook’s Help Center at https://www.facebook.com/help.

It is less complicated for Twitter.  You can sign into the Twitter account, go to Account Settings, read the account deactivation, then Click Okay, fine, deactivate account.  Enter the password when prompted and verify that you want to deactivate the account.  More information can be found on Twitter’s Support Center at https://support.twitter.com. For other social media platforms, go to the support/help section of the site for information about closing accounts.

3. Don’t Forget Financial/Shopping Sites

Most computer users have online banking, shopping, news or other accounts, including online bill pay. What will happen to those accounts to when you die?  For both Amazon and eBay, you have to contact them to close an account.  For online bill pay and brokerage accounts, go to the help center of the site in question to find out how to close the account.

Our online accounts have become like a shoebox under the bed.  Yet, unlike the shoebox, spouses and children can’t just open up your account without the right information.  Protect yourself, your personal information and your assets by making sure your loved ones or executor have the emails, ID’s and passwords to access what they need to in order to close out your accounts when the time comes.




When to Seek Professional Help

When it comesWhen to Seek Help from an Elder Law Attorney to our family members, we like to think that we know what is best for them.  For the most part that is true. After all, these are people we grew up with or in the case of family by way of marriage, got to know over the years.

Yet there are times, in particular when loved ones get older and need help, that the question, “Should I seek professional help?” arises with respect to the health and financial affairs of your loved one.

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Checklist for Hiring an in Home Care Provider

Home Care Provider & Elder Care Attorney in Bucks CountyMost people prefer to stay in their own home where they are comfortable, secure, and can be independent, rather than receive care in an assisted living/personal care facility.

However, if your loved one decides to remain in his or her home, support can be provided by a home health care provider. Home health care providers offer a wide range of services to ensure that your loved one is well cared for.. When you begin looking for the right home health care provider for your loved one, consider the following list of tips to help you find the right caregiver.

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What is the Difference between Guardianship and a Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney vs Guardianship for seniorsBoth a power of attorney and guardianship are tools to assist someone who is unable to make financial or medical decisions for him or herself by appointing an agent or guardian to act in their stead. However, these tools differ in their responsibilities and the freedom and control they give to the elder or person with special needs.

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Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Long-Term Care Facility

Care Facility: Elder Care Attorney in Bucks CountyIt’s one of the most difficult decisions a family can face: Moving an older parent into a long-term care facility. Even if the parent recognizes they can no longer live on their own, there are other major questions to be answered:

How do we know a nursing home is safe? How can we make sure they’ll get the best care? As an elder care attorney in Bucks County, Richard Newman knows how difficult it can to answer these questions. That’s why we’re sharing this list from the AARP.

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What should you know about ABLE savings accounts for your loved ones with special needs?

special needs trust in PAThere is new legislation that allows for a family that has a loved one with special needs to set up an ABLE Savings Account.  The Stephen J. Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) was signed into law in December 2014.  This law allows states to create their own ABLE programs.  Previously, Special Needs Trusts were the only way a family could save money for a special needs individual without losing eligibility for SSI and Medicaid benefits.  But now with the availability of ABLE Savings accounts, families have another option to save for their disabled loved one’s future.

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Common Questions About Supplemental Needs Trusts

Supplemental needs trusts in PA serve a specific and important purpose: to provide for someone with a physical or mental disability after the death of a parent or another loved one.

Here are some common questions we hear about these trusts:

1. Who can create supplemental needs trusts in PA?

These trusts – which are also referred to as special needs trusts –are typically set up by a parent, grandparent or legal guardian, although siblings or other relatives can establish a trust as well. In some cases, a judge can create an SNT for a person with a disability.

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Present and Future Social Security Outlooks for Older Americans

Social Security Word CloudYou are now in your late 50’s and getting closer to retirement.  As you were working, discussions about Social Security benefits have been prevalent in the mouths of the government, the media, family and friends.

Everyone relies on Social Security, but it is especially important to those that are older.  Recently, older Americans have been feeling the pressure from wages not increasing and pensions becoming smaller and smaller.  This pressure is only likely to grow in the future.  How do you make sure that your plans for the future will be viable?

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What to Do When Drafting a Special Needs Trust

special needs trust in PANo one likes to think about the end of their life, but planning for the end is important.

It’s doubly important when you know you’ll be leaving behind children, whether that means juveniles or adult children or other family members with special needs.

Making arrangements for the care of minor children is its own topic. Today we’re going to focus on children with special needs, and the concept of the special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust.

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