Saturday, February 21, 2009

Organizing Your Estate: Your On-Line Life

Jeri Dansky on Facebook

"We can't get people to even make Wills. How on earth is anyone going to understand what happens to their virtual life when they die?"
-- Unnamed journalist quoted in a letter posted on Consumerist

If you're an adult, you probably know you should have:
1. A will.
2. A trust (if you own any significant amount of stuff).
3. A medical power of attorney, advance health care directive, or living will.
4. A financial power of attorney.

If you don't have these done, please take care of this now! (If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'll be glad to point you to the estate attorney I used.)

But have you ever considered your on-line life? Your bank accounts, your e-mail, your web sites, your blogs, your social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), your virtual life if you participate in sites like Second Life?

Does anyone know your user IDs and passwords, so your on-line life can even be accessed?

And have you considered what you'd want done with your web presence, including any social media sites you participate in such as Facebook - the site involved in the Consumerist story quoted above? Would you like to have such sites kept alive as a memorial, or have them removed? Use them to communicate to others who may not know what has happened to you? And do the appropriate people know those wishes?

Personally, I've let the right person know my key logins and passwords, but it looks like I have some more stuff to communicate. What about you?


SueBK said...

I have often pondered this question. I spent a lot of time online and belong to various groups all over the place. My husband wouldn't have a clue a) which things I belong to or b) how to access them even if he did know.

My thinking is simply have a notebook in which I record each site and the relevant log in details; and maybe a brief explanation of what the site is. I'm not sure how else to approach this issue. I have various log in details and passwords because different sites have different requirements - some want an email, some want a name a certain length, etc etc.

My concern is that the logical place for such a notebook would be near the computer, but that then leaves me vulnerable to someone unauthorised picking it up.

Any suggestions?

Jeri Dansky said...

It's a hard call, Sue. One option: You can obfuscate the passwords as you write them down; see my earlier post on passwords for more information.

Louise said...

This is a good reminder. I take care of much of our on-line financial life, and need to share our user IDs and passwords with hubby again.

For real-life estate planning, I have a very good person in the Seattle area, if any of your readers need a recommendation in Washington. Estate planning is very state-specific, so folks need a lawyer/estate planner in their specific state. And paper wills need to be reviewed every 5 years or so, and we're due, so thanks for another reminder!

Jeri Dansky said...

You're very welcome, Louise!