MINNEAPOLIS- Most people know what happens to a house, car or money after we die. But, what about our online presence?
From bank accounts to social media to everything in your mobile phone, while we may die, those can live on.
“We have had questions over the years, especially in recent history about what do we do with a cell phone? What do we do with the social media accounts? Usually if death has been unexpected and unanticipated,” says Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapels President Bill McReavy.
For decades, McReavy has operated a number of funeral chapels in the Twin Cities. As technology and our reliability in it advances, so have the questions.
“We have been asked to have a cell phone placed in a position where the deceased finger could open the cell phone however we have not actually done it, because we haven’t' needed to. However, it has taken place at a hospital and a medical examiner's office. And we anticipate that may happen,” says McReavy.
So what can you do to avoid all this?
“First of all, you want to leave that trail of breadcrumbs that we use to tell the client to do digitally so that they know passwords, usernames and basically what kinds of accounts are out there,” advises trust and estates attorney Dennis Patrick.
Write down account information for electronic devices, benefits and financials, emails, shopping and charitable accounts, photo and music accounts, social media, video, virtual currency and web sites you may own. Keep that information in a place where your next of kin, executor, or power of attorney can access it. Then, make sure your will, trust or power of attorney documents reflect your data wishes.
“They should have a writing that authorizes their executor their family member whoever will be taking care of their affairs, that authorizes them to get access to their accounts and their computing devices,” says Patrick.
Note that the law is still pretty grey when it comes to access.
For instance, Facebook allows you to choose a legacy contact should you pass on. They can manage your page in remembrance when you pass or close the page entirely.
Twitter and Google are similar and will work with an executor or family member to deactivate an account upon death.