USA Weekend highlighted a commonly overlooked piece of estate planning in "Create A Plan Now For Your Virtual Assets". Jill Golden asked:
Millions of Americans use e-mail, blogs and social networking sites to stay connected with friends and relatives. But what happens to your accounts after you die?
It seems that we all have online banking & brokerage accounts, Yahoo or Gmail, EBay, PayPal, Facebook, Twitter, and more. When we die, the material stored in these accounts can become unreachable or dissapear unless we ensure our loved ones have access through our login information.
I heard a story of a U.S. Marine who was killed in action while serving in Iraq, and his family was not granted access to his Yahoo! email account due to privacy reasons. This ended up being very traumatic for the Marine's family because they wanted to remember him in his words, and his writings were lost forever when the account was deleted.
The author of this article introduced several companies that will forward user names, passwords and personal instructions to a person of your choosing after your death, which include LegacyLocker.com, AssetLock.net, and MyWebWill.com.
Whether you use one of these web services, or just create a handwritten list of user names and passwords and leave it in a safe-deposit box, make sure that losing access to these "virtual assets" does not cause stress or heartache for those you leave behind.