Sep 14, 2007

Don't Forget Your E-Things

When you're putting together your estate plan, don't forget to pass on the login names and passwords to your online accounts. Loved ones may need access to them when you're gone.

If you bank online, use online stock brokers, or if you conduct other business online -- maybe through eBay or PayPal -- your loved ones or your executor will need to close those accounts and distribute any remaining funds. Leaving clear access will make that job much easier.

Your loved ones may also want to retrieve contacts from your email account, preserve photos from your online photo library, or post a final entry onto your blog.

Accessing online accounts without the password can prove difficult, if not impossible. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Katherine Roseman reports that each internet site makes its own rules about providing a deceased's account information. For example, to access a Gmail account, Google requires proof of death and provides access only to an estate administrator, while facebook won't provide account access at all but will put the account in a "memorial state."

You don't need a fancy document to leave this information. Just make a list of important accounts and store it with your other estate planning documents. For more information, see Nolo's article Help Your Executor: Secured Places and Passwords.

Betsy Simmons