In 2016, we wrote about the new North Carolina digital assets law and what happens to social media and e-mail accounts when you pass away: https://www.jessonrainslaw.com/news--blog/what-happens-to-my-facebook-or-gmail-when-i-die
Digital assets are not really “assets” in the true sense that you own the property. Facebook and G-mail own the property, and you’re just using it. Ultimately, that account is controlled by whatever contract you sign (or “clicked”) when you signed up for the service. Despite including digital asset instructions in wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, loved ones are still having issues accessing or shutting down a deceased family member’s digital property.
One option is to provide the executor with all the passwords to these accounts so that the executor can access them upon death. If you do it the old fashioned way and write all your passwords down and store them in a safe (not taped on the wall next to the computer!), you have the responsibility of updating that list every time you change a password or add an account.
Instead of using pen and paper, consider using a digital password manager like LastPass or Dashlane. You can name an emergency contact (your executor) who will have access to your passwords in the event of death or incapacity. Additionally, by using a password manager, you don’t have to worry about updating them yourself; you are notified any time an account is compromised; the password managers create unique passwords for you that are less likely to be hacked; and you can change all the passwords with just a click of a button (and you don’t have to remember any of them).
Prices for these services range from $0 to $40 per year. You can even use them for business accounts!
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Kelly Rains Jesson