How to Handle Online Accounts When You Die

We are increasingly living our lives online, doing everything from banking to interacting with peers via digital platforms. You may want to ensure that these digital assets fall into safe hands, when you pass away. Prestige Tax and Trust Services discusses how to handle online accounts when you die.

Potential ramifications

Many people have fallen into the habit of storing private, sensitive details online. It has become common practise to post pictures and private messages on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, or place financial details on digital banking services, or e-commerce platforms like eBay and Amazon. Meanwhile, people often use email services like Gmail to conduct private correspondence.

You should be aware that if you pass away, your online accounts will remain active. People will still be able to post messages on your Facebook profile for example. It is advisable to appoint someone you trust to handle your online accounts, should you die. This will allow them to close your accounts and ensure that your private information does not fall into the hands of people you do not trust.

Apportioning rights

You might want to appoint a friend or family member to handle your digital assets. But you should be aware that your accounts are protected by strong passwords and internet companies are often unwilling to hand out passwords to just anyone. In a famous case, a grieving father was informed by Apple that he needed to obtain a court order, to access his son’s online accounts with the company.

We advise you appoint someone you trust to manage or close your online accounts, in the eventuality of your death, in your will. As a legal document, your will should be respected by the British courts, making it harder for your appointment to be successfully challenged via the UK legal system. Also, many online firms respect appointments made via will as a matter of policy. Facebook, for example, allows the executor of your will to request that your profile is deactivated or memorialised.

Varied policies

Each firm has different policies concerning this issue. While Facebook, for example, only lets an executor of a will take on this task, Twitter will also let a verified relative do so, but both firms retain your information. Read the services’ terms and conditions carefully and consult legal experts, when planning what to do with these assets when you die, to ensure you can control how they are handled.

You should also consider how your financial online assets e.g. digital bank account, will be managed. According to PC Advisor, these assets can be handled similarly to traditional ones, like property. As long as you write a will, you can control who inherits them. Also if you have outstanding credit on e-commerce services, your executor should value and administer them normally, so it is key that when selecting executors, you choose someone with sound financial and basic technological knowledge.

Prestige Tax and Trust Services

Learn how to write a will when thinking of how your online accounts will be handled, should you pass away, to make it more likely that your wishes will be respected. There are a lot of considerations with wills, so you should hire legal experts, to ensure you produce a sound legal document. The team here at Prestige Tax and Trust Services has the knowledge needed to advice you on will matters.

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