Modern Estate Plans Specify Wishes for Online Identity and Accounts

Most people think about what will happen to their bank accounts, 401Ks, home, and their wedding rings when they pass away.

Gone are the days of keeping mementos in scrapbooks, photo albums, and boxes full of handwritten letters. After all the hours spent creating a Facebook profile and posts or eBay store, have you even thought about what will happen to your online identity in the afterlife? In our internet-overload world, imagine what could happen to your Facebook, Gmail, PayPal, iTunes, and many other accounts. Without proper estate planning, these accounts and even an individual’s finances could be in jeopardy.

People with access or malicious hackers could tap into your accounts and abuse or drain the debit or credit cards associated with them. Many heirs might not even think of this facet of estate planning in the aftermath of a loved one’s death. By the time the perpetrator is discovered it could be too late.

Finding an experienced estate planning attorney in your local area is a big plus. As physical assets and online ones change or accumulate, a good attorney can help an individual prepare for the distribution of assets and who should access chosen websites. Attorneys stay up to date with online tools to assist with convenient password transfers that a loved one wants to leave to a spouse, child, friend, or colleague. This way, digital assets are as safeguarded as life insurance policies, safety deposit boxes, and wills.

Many people will want to be remembered in special ways, so taking the time to think how you want to leave your Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Twitter, or even a blog will benefit you and your family in the event of your death. And what if you had an active eBay, iTunes, YouTube, or PayPal linked site? Individuals would not want their monies, clientele, or reputation to be harmed. Proper planning for every facet of your online presence will ensure your legacy and financial security continues on with the right individual at the helm.

Death is hardly a fun subject to talk about, but in a recent New York Times article, it was estimated that 375,000 U.S. Facebook users die every year. Facebook touts 500 million people use the site worldwide, so this estimate is probably low, but it highlights the growing importance of how your digital assets are handled once you have died. Forward-thinking estate planning attorneys and online tools will have an individual name a digital executor that will receive all directions for what to do with online accounts. This even includes deleting certain accounts one might not want to linger after death.

Most websites, like Facebook and Gmail, will want a copy of a death certificate, proof of power of attorney, and will do their own verifications to ensure the account should be turned to memorial mode or all emails turned over to a designated individual. With so many social networking and online user-created sites, an individual’s identity and wishes for how it should be preserved in the digital age will be a key factor in estate planning for many years to come.

In Florida, for example, Tampa estate planning attorney Reginald Osenton helps clients with every facet of a modern estate plan to secure an individual and family’s health and happiness. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling clients at Osenton Law Offices regarding estate plans to make their wishes known and establish directives for their financial, personal, and health care decisions.

O. Reginald (“Reggie”) Osenton is the Owner and President of Osenton Law Offices, P.A. If you need a Brandon bankruptcy lawyer, Tampa bankruptcy lawyer, or Tampa bankruptcy attorney, call 813.654.5777 or visit

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