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What To Do With Online Accounts After Your Loved One Passes

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Facebook has about 2.5 billion active monthly users.

But who knows how many of those active “users” are even still alive.

For example, Patrick D. recently received a Facebook notification.

The notification said, “Steve D. tagged you in a photo on Facebook.”

Now, Steve was Patrick’s brother. But sadly, he died four years before Patrick received the Facebook notification.

He knew it couldn’t be real, but the shock of getting the notification shook him up.

Patrick said someone had taken over his brother’s account.

The person then tagged more than 40 friends in a Ray-Ban sunglasses sale post.

The Facebook post directed people to a fake Ray-Ban website where scammers were hoping to sell their products.

Then they would steal credit card information.

And once the scammer had your information they would hack into other online accounts and continue their ruse.

The Ray-Ban scam was one of the most common scams on Facebook.

Unfortunately, it’s all too common for deceased individuals to be the target of scammers looking to steal identities.

When a loved one passes there are so many things to take care of.

Including, what to do about all the accounts they have on the internet.

There are logins, passwords, security questions, and who knows what else.

Here are a few tips to assist you when dealing with the online accounts of loved ones.

E-mail/social media.

Nowadays, we have online accounts for everything we do.

Which means usernames and passwords for a whole host of websites.

The problem is, every website has different rules to deal with a deceased person’s account.

For example, Google requires documentation such as a death certificate.

And even after proof of death, this still doesn’t mean they will grant your request for access.

It is done on a case-by-case basis.

Some e-mail platforms such as Yahoo Mail don’t have any survivorship rights.

Under no circumstances will they provide you access to another person’s account.

Social media platforms all have different rules for obtaining access to a deceased person’s account.

But, you have to contact their customer support to see what the steps are.

Some companies will allow you to remove an account or turn the profile into a memorial page.

Create a digital estate plan. 

When one of my loved ones died, she had an address book with contact information for everyone in her life.

But digital assets are not as easily taken care of as physical assets like this.

And most wills today don’t include what to do about online accounts.

So, you may want to consider creating a digital estate plan.

This is something that your loved ones could access in the event of a death.

The first step is to discuss with your loved ones what accounts they use.

You may not think that your 90-year-old mother uses TikTok, but you may be surprised.

Just have an honest conversation about what accounts they have.

Then create a list of logins and passwords that can be shared with a trusted person at the right time.

Keep in mind that in many states, a will can become a public record.

Therefore, you never want to include login or password information in the actual will.

Terms and conditions. 

Reading the fine print when creating an online account is something most people never do.

But you may be giving away any claim to your online information.

For instance, Apple’s iTunes accounts expire upon the user’s death.

So, if your parent spent thousands of dollars building up their iTunes library it would all go away.

And while an iTunes account may not be a priority, what if the cloud storage your parent used did the same thing.

All the family photos could be gone forever.

My point is, for critical online accounts read the fine print.

Ask the company what happens to the data if the account holder passes away.

The bottom line is this: online accounts represent a huge part of many people’s lives.

And when a person passes away, families must deal with the task of figuring out what to do with all the data.

If a deceased person kept their credentials private, then getting into their online accounts can be tricky.

But when ignored, these online accounts can appear active even after the user’s death.

So, right now is a good time to create a digital estate plan. Sit down and talk about it with your loved ones.

Also, if you have old online accounts that you never use, then delete them permanently.

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