Friday, May 15, 2009

Online Estate Planning

NPR aired an interesting story this week about the legal battles that can ensue over email accounts, domain names, etc., after a person has passed away. 

A text version of the piece points out: "... few people have taken steps to plan for their digital afterlife. It's not yet common for people to include their online information in their wills, [John] Dozier [Jr.] says. And even if they did, and the properties were legally transferred to the beneficiaries, terms-of-service agreements on sites like Gmail and Facebook typically prohibit the use of an account by anyone other than the original owner, he says."

It's undoubtedly something we'll hear more about in the future as the portion of the population that has greater web presence begins to age. But man, it would never have occurred to me to include email passwords in my will. 


Gail Rae said...

Because I have so much stuff online, including websites, blogs, email addresses, online pay sites, etc., I keep a running list of all sites to which I "belong" with user names and passwords, exactly to this purpose. Fortunately, my family knows about it. I've been doing this for years. However, I can totally understand someone who doesn't think about this. I had no idea that, typically, at this time, gaining access to a dead person's online life is pretty much prohibited in thought, even if someone has passed on a list of usernames and passwords. Interesting! I guess that means, if you're going to go into a dead someone else's accounts, DON'T LET THE PROVIDER KNOW YOU'RE NOT THE ACCOUNT HOLDER! Wow! Pretty unenlightened on the part of business ethics, I'd say.

Jessica Knapp said...

You raise a good point though ... it's a whole world of business ethics that really hasn't been explored. It will be interesting to watch that facet of things develop over the years, for sure.

elenora123 said...

Well… I visit your website first time and found this site very useful and interesting! Well… you guys doing nice work and I just want to say that keep rocking and keep it up!!!!
estate planning