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Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can do just about anything online today. Whether it's watching a movie, checking your bank account balance, shopping for clothes, or ordering pizza, each activity probably requires a username and password.
Studies have shown that the average American Internet user has 150 online accounts that require a login. There are many passwords to manage from day to day. But have you ever wondered what happens to your accounts and logins after you leave?
As our digital footprints grow with each passing year, experts now recommend taking steps to manage your online accounts as part of the estate planning process. Like drafting a will, buying a life insurance policy or choosing an executive a little planning can make life a lot easier for those who handle your property when you pass by.
Here are four ways you can plan ahead to make deactivation of your online accounts quick and easy:
To delete online accounts after your death, it is important to know which digital logins existed in the first place. This is why it is good to do a complete inventory of your online accounts and login information for each. Be sure to list all accounts you can think of, including:
- Bank Accounts
- Credit Cards
- Pension and Savings Plans
- Social Media Profiles
- Shopping Centers
- Bills and Tools
- Subscription Services
Include website address, username, password, account number and security question answers for each account. You may want to consider using a password manager to keep everything in a safe place.
2nd Name a digital executor.
Just like a property manager who manages your last will and will, a digital executive can be named to take over your digital assets. Once assigned, the digital executor may be responsible for:
- Archiving all files, photos, video or other content that you have created
- Deleting files and deleting hard drives
- Maintaining certain online accounts while closing others  Transferring Accounts to Your Heirs
- Notifying Online Stores of Your Death
- Canceling Recurring Payments
Many states allow you to legally name a digital executive in your will but because the need to manage assets online is quite new, some have states do not recognize this role yet. Contact your real estate lawyer to learn the terms of your permit.
For each online account you create, you must agree to the supplier's terms of service. If you're like most people, you've probably flipped to the bottom of the page to click "I agree" without reading the fine print.
But in the Terms of Service, there are often languages that handle how accounts are disabled in the event of a user's death. For example, Facebook provides an option where a deceased person's profile can be turned into a memorial . Trading platforms such as Amazon and PayPal require an executor to contact the company directly to deactivate an account. Understanding the policies for each account can help provide instructions for your digital executor.
4. Delete unnecessary accounts. Once you have created an inventory of your online accounts, you can begin clearing your digital presence by removing accounts you no longer need . Having fewer active profiles will make life easier for your digital executive and at the same time help protect you against the possibility of identity theft. And it will save embarrassment for anyone who finds the old Myspace photos.
Plan for the future
As you write your will, the choices you make now about life insurance will finally speak on your behalf by representing your intentions for loved ones and family. As a custodian of this legacy, Erie Insurance can help you make choices that will be right for your values.
Talk to your local ERIE agent to learn more about how to protect your family's future.