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.

Sources:

http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/34611995/estate-planning-for-the-digital-world

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C000-S004-protect-digital-assets-after-your-death.html

Common Scams Targeting Seniors

Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The PhoneWe try to protect the older members of our families. We look in on them when we can, we advise them to keep their homes secure, we make sure they get to their doctor’s appointments.

But in some cases, threats to senior citizens can come from people half a world away.

Financial scams targeting seniors are – unfortunately – everywhere these days. Here are some of the most common, according to the National Council on Aging.

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Elder Abuse: Signs of Abuse and How You Can Prevent It

 

Elder abuse is a growing problem that affects thousands of elderly individuals. Many times, abuse is well hidden and elders feel ashamed of being victimized, making it difficult to correct the situation. As the adult child, family member or friend of an elder, you can help prevent abuse by knowing the signs and what to do if abuse is suspected. The questions and answers below will help you identify elder abuse and prevent any further abuse.

What is elder abuse?

According to the Administration on Aging, elder abuse is a violation of human rights and a significant cause of illness, injury, loss of productivity, isolation and despair.

What are the types of elder abuse?

Continue Reading Elder Abuse: Signs of Abuse and How You Can Prevent It

Tax Scams to Avoid

Don’t fall victim to tax scams! Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Here are some of the recent 2014 tax scams the Internal Revenue Service wants you to be aware of:

(1) Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security Number (SSN) or other identifying information – without your permission – to commit fraud or other crimes. In many cases, an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund.

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Steps to Prevent Identity Theft and What to Do if It Happens

Identity theft isn’t just an unauthorized charge on a credit card. Identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission, “occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.”

Although financial institutions, health care companies and other businesses have taken steps to improve security measures, you cannot rely on them to protect you. Taking steps now can prevent you from a major headache later.

PREVENTION – Be sure to always review your monthly statements from your checking or other financial accounts. The earlier that you catch an error, the easier it will be to resolve it. Also, balancing your check book will help you see where your money is going and will help you spot any unauthorized charges or withdrawals. Continue Reading Steps to Prevent Identity Theft and What to Do if It Happens

Tips for Safe Summer Travel

Are you thinking about traveling this summer?  Senior citizens love to travel over the summer. It is important to keep health and travel safety concerns at the forefront. It can ensure a safe, fun, and problem free trip. Here are some tips to ensure safe travel:

To keep yourself healthy while traveling, follow these tips:

  • Pay attention to the heat and stay hydrated. The easiest way to stay cool and comfortable is to drink 6-8 glasses a day. Don’t wait till you are thirsty…drink throughout the day even if you aren’t thirsty.
  • Increase fluid intake by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Continue Reading Tips for Safe Summer Travel

Seniors and fraud: how to recognize it and stop it

Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The PhoneAccording to a recent article in Elder Law Answers, 70 percent of the nation’s wealth is controlled by people age 55 and older. Of course, as people get older they need help with day to day activities and finances can be one of those activities. That’s where the potential for fraud comes in.

Many times the perpetrators are people that the victim knows, such as an adult child, grandchild or employed caregiver. Signs that fraud is taking place include:

Continue Reading Seniors and fraud: how to recognize it and stop it