In days gone by, the distribution of assets upon a person’s death might be relatively straightforward. It is still true today that, when waiting to hear about what assets the beneficiaries of an estate might receive, there could be some hurt feelings or tension over who might receive a cherished item — a beloved grand piano, for example, or a family heirloom desk.
When the estates of today are settled, however, there are other things to take into consideration aside from pianos or desks. For many people, the paper bank statement is a relic of the past. Instead, financial matters are frequently — and sometimes exclusively — dealt with online. If a person has accounts with several different companies, then it’s likely there is a set of user names and passwords for each of them.
Making sure that this information is known to the appropriate people — and left unknown to those who might be tempted to use them for their own purposes — is crucial. Some types of accounts or investments that might have online accounts include, but aren’t limited to:
- bank accounts
- brokerage accounts
- insurance policies
- utility company accounts
- email and social media accounts
Some people might scoff at the last item on that list. However, emails can contain sensitive and confidential information. And social media platforms, such as Facebook, are these days frequently used as storage for photos that have been scanned from fading originals. Making sure that these are preserved after you are no longer around to do it yourself is a consideration worth making.
Source: USA Today, ” Estate Planning 101: Don’t forget digital assets ,” Eric McWhinnie, May 25, 2014