The typical web user has 25 online accounts, ranging from social media to online banking (according to a 2007 study from Microsoft). Did you know that most include a clause that makes your assets non-transferable upon death and many will force account deactivation?
Even if the rights are given to you in a Will or Durable Power of Attorney (POA), using them can be difficult. As I found when I tried to act on my parents behalf when they were both alive — you may have the right by law and on paper — but that doesn’t make the vendor accept that you have the legal right. After several financial firms told me they wouldn’t accept the POA my parents completed in 2002 (if was over two or five years old which was their requirement), we ended up drafting a new one. Most lawyers will tell you they don’t go stale — but I didn’t have the time to pursue a legal battle with banks — thankfully — I found out before it was too late for my parents to sign a new POA.
I learned that having the paper with the rights isn’t as easy to use as you are lead to believe. Even if you are named the “digital executor” it won’t guarantee you have the power to bestow access to your loved ones.
You have the power to make this a simple matter. Write down your usernames and passcodes and put them in a place your loved one could find if they need to use it. One way to document this information is in a MemoryBanc Register. Experienced.
Two current news stories on this topic can be found here:
What Happens to your digital life after death? (12/2/2013) Pew Research Center
What Happens to Digital Assets when you Die? (12/2/2013) Grand Rapids Business Journal