When it comes to estate planning, it may be easy for many to overlook the increasing number of transactions that are done online, financial or otherwise. Once someone is deceased, his or her online accounts live on, whether they are for automatic bill payment, digital photo storage or social media. Any New Jersey resident with online accounts may obtain some peace of mind by including provisions for these accounts in his or her estate planning.
It's important to authorize someone to access and close out online accounts. Most websites and online services will not allow a third party to access accounts without this authorization. An estate plan can name an executor to be in charge of all online accounts and services. This may be the same person named as the executor for the entire estate.
As with anything else that is included in an estate plan, it helps to keep a record of all online accounts and services. This record may take the form of a comprehensive list of online profiles, user names, passwords and the answers to security questions, and it should be updated as the information changes. The executor also needs to know where and how to access this information.
Including online account information in an estate plan does not involve a lot of extra time and effort, and it may save loved ones from a huge hassle later. Allowing online accounts and services to continue after death, especially automatic bill payment services, could have a negative impact on the family bank account. Individuals in New Jersey and elsewhere may wish to seek legal advice about the best way to include online account information in their estate planning.
Source: News, "The essentials of online estate planning," Dave Johnson, July 15, 2013