Even with an eye towards good organization and forethought, the details of our digital life can create major headaches for our loved ones after death.It seems that it is far easier to set up digital accounts than it is to close them. After death, this nuisance can morph quickly into a major, and perhaps expensive, complication.
In our modern digital world, there are many disparate pieces that often do not all fit neatly together. We have banking and investment accounts; credit cards; utilities; mortgages; entertainment; e-mail accounts; food and wine clubs – and the list goes on. If some of these are joint accounts, they can be particularly tricky to unwind. Many financial institutions are still operating with decade-old rules that can create high hurdles for immediate family members to clear.
As with most things, the best place to focus is in the areas with the largest monetary issues, good and bad. There are a variety of digital “lock-box” providers that can keep an accessible list of account numbers and passwords (Legacy Locker and SecureSafe among others). There are also iOS apps where account numbers and log-in information can be stored on your phone/pad behind a single password for entry.
In the immediate aftermath of the death of a spouse or other family member, it is best to proceed slowly. Very few decisions have to be made during this time. When some time has passed, tackle a few details and start the process of closing or converting various digital accounts. Go in expecting some level of frustration. Each entity likely has a different set of rules and requirements. A little planning in advance can save your loved ones a great deal of angst after death.