Digital assets need monitoring, even after death

Digital assets need monitoring, even after death

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Alicia Sears offers some tips regarding digital assets of deceased people. (Jim Courtney)
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"Every once in awhile, I'll get a notification that it's his birthday, it's part of the settings that were used to establish the account," said Sears, a tax manager at Buffalo accounting firm Lumsden & McCormick.

Sears knows firsthand that once a Facebook user passes on, his or her page lives on because it's part of the company policy. Unless someone other than the deceased has login information, the company will keep a page up and running.

"Facebook puts a freeze on it; they call it memorializing," Sears said. "Without a username and login, it's difficult to manage after the fact."

By after the fact, Sears means, "when it's too late."

Before paperless statements, she said, someone would go through the mail of a deceased person to learn of accounts that needed to be addressed. But that's not enough in the 21st Century.

She added that to make sure that a person's social assets — which include social media accounts, online banking, Web mail and other cloud-based applications that house music and other information — should be shared with a family member or attorney. This way, bills can continue to be paid and family photos can be accessed.

1. Create a list of usernames and passwords

Sears suggests that a first step in taking care of digital assets is to create a log of all accounts, usernames and passwords.

"It's important to share passwords, create some sort of list with adult children or your attorney, when you set up your will," Sears said.

Patricia Farrell, managing director at Wilmington Trust in Buffalo agrees, and said that it's important to not include usernames and passwords in a will, in case a will ends up becoming public record. Instead, store the list in a safe place and back it up on a flash drive.

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David Bertola covers small business, energy and marketing

Continue reading at http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/blog/morning_roundup/2014/11/digital-assets-need-monitoring-even-after-death.html?ana=twt&utm_content=buffer78957&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer&page=2 .


aliciasears Enlarge Photo
Alicia Sears offers some tips regarding digital assets of deceased people. (Jim Courtney)

2. Decide who will be given access to which accounts.

Sears said there's something else to consider if the family dynamic has changed over the years. If there are adult children who don't get along, and family issues were discussed with mom or dad via email, she said that could create additional havoc. So be careful who is chosen to oversee which asset.

Farrell called the people who fill these roles digital executors.

"Make it part of the conversation now," Farrell said. "This can be your attorney, a trusted friend, a spouse, someone who understands how important and someone who is tech savvy and understands the information that you provided."

3. Decide what you want to happen with your stuff after you're gone

"Do you want your family to have access to all your emails, videos or photos that you've downloaded?" Sears said. "There may be some things you don't want your loved ones to see. Decide now, and make your wishes known to those you care about."

This level of privacy can be outlined, she said, in a will or trust.

"No one's thinking about these kinds of things when they're 16 years old and creating these accounts," she said.

Sears said that her friend was 19 when he committed suicide. And although Facebook won't shut his page down (she won't divulge his name), his parents manage the page and people can still post information to his wall.

"But they don't have access to change settings," she said, adding that it has become a sort of meeting place for those who remember him.

"It's kept a group of friends together, and every year we get together to celebrate the time we did have with him. The great thing about memorializing the account is that his page is used to raise awareness about suicide."

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David Bertola covers small business, energy and marketing

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“Every once in awhile, I’ll get a notification that it’s his birthday, it’s part of the settings that were used to establish the account,” said Sears, a tax manager at Buffalo accounting firm Lumsden & McCormick.

Sears knows firsthand that once a user passes on, his or her page lives on because it’s part of the company policy. Unless someone other than the deceased has login information, the company will keep a page up and running.

“Facebook puts a freeze on it; they call it memorializing,” Sears said. “Without a username and login, it’s difficult to manage after the fact.”

By after the fact, Sears means, “when it’s too late.”

Before paperless statements, she said, someone would go through the mail of a deceased person to learn of accounts that needed to be addressed. But that’s not enough in the 21st Century.

She added that to make sure that a person’s social — which include accounts, , Web mail and other cloud-based applications that house music and other information — should be shared with a or attorney. This way, bills can continue to be paid and family photos can be accessed.

1. Create a list of

Sears suggests that a first step in taking care of is to create a log of all accounts, usernames and passwords.

“It’s important to share passwords, create some sort of list with adult children or your attorney, when you set up your will,” Sears said.

Patricia Farrell, managing director at Wilmington Trust in Buffalo agrees, and said that it’s important to not include usernames and passwords in a will, in case a will ends up becoming public record. Instead, store the list in a safe place and back it up on a flash drive.

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Eleanore

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