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Digital Estate Planning: The Importance Of Giving Access To Online Accounts

New Yorkers who become incapacitated or die without sharing digital information with survivors risk leaving huge problems with the handling of important matters left in cyberspace. Without knowing the right online IDs and passwords, executors of an estate may not know what bills have been left unpaid, or whether some online accounts even exist.

According to MSN Money, it is crucial for people to make sure they leave behind the digital details essential to managing one's financial and private matters on the internet. When it comes to finances, individuals who are unable to communicate because of an injury or illness can risk having their bank accounts closed, insurance coverage fall, or unpaid bills destroy their credit scores.

The better a person is about online security (like making strong passwords and changing them regularly), the more difficult it can be for families to access other important personal digital files, such as:

  • Email accounts, address books, and calendars;
  • Social networking accounts, like Twitter and Facebook;
  • Music or photos stored on the internet; and
  • Wireless-networking or security software.

Fortunately, there are several websites that offer digital solutions to help New Yorkers manage their digital estate planning. InformationSafe and Legacy Locker are two examples of sites that serve as an "online safe-deposit box" for people to store important online information that will only be disclosed to those designated and allowed access.

For those uncomfortable with leaving their information in digital form, you can also consider creating a physical document that you can leave to an attorney, trusted relative or friend, or in a safe-deposit box. To learn more about digital estate planning and how to manage your online affairs, visit the Related Resources links below.

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