What will happen to your digital footprint when something happens to you? Baby boomers need to address the digital afterlife they will leave behind now because it could take on a life of its own once they are gone. If digital accounts are not closed and are left floating out there in cyberspace, they are a fertile field for identity theft.
Accessing and closing digital accounts after death is not easy. Most technology companies have differing policies on handling the deceased’s accounts and new state laws complicate the issue. So, boomers should designate who they want accessing their digital information upon their death, put the name of the person in writing and record it in their will, along with the names of all digital accounts, usernames and passwords.
Currently, many boomers have not included their digital footprint in their will. Unless boomers have left specific account names, usernames and passwords, their family members or designated executors will have problems accessing websites and online accounts, leaving them open to identity theft.
Boomers should specify their digital afterlife wishes to the attorney handling their will so their digital assets and instructions can be incorporated in the will. The best approach for boomers is to give their attorney, and the executor of their will, clear and precise instructions plus a comprehensive list of e-accounts, login names and passwords, ideally on a flash drive.
Include all financial, banking and credit card online accounts as these are especially vulnerable to identity theft. It is advisable to give a copy of this comprehensive list of e-accounts to a family member as well. It is also important to keep your comprehensive list of all e-accounts, contact names, login names and passwords updated.
Marketwatch advises boomers to direct the executor of their will to unsubscribe and close all of their accounts and delete all of their electronic information. Because websites they use have different rules and restrictions to secure and close the accounts, the executor will probably need to check with each individual site for its specific terms. Some require verification of death before an account can be closed, like a death certificate.
Marketwatch also recommends:
- List all of your accounts, logins, passwords and URL’s including email accounts. If you have more than one email account it is imperative that the appropriate email address be listed with each of your accounts for communication purposes;
- List social media Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.;
- List any sites you use to purchase or sell products and services;
- List all retailers where you have open accounts;
- List all business and service related online accounts like banking, utilities, cable, phone, Internet, etc.; and
- List all accounts in which you use automatic transfers or payments via a credit card or checking account withdraw.