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How would he get to my PayPal account if I died tomorrow?

Updated on October 9, 2014

What will happen to the online accounts I leave behind?

This isn't an exciting or fun subject to tackle, but it's one that I need to do. I have a pretty substantial online life. How do I want my computer activities to be handled if I die unexpectely?

I'm writing this for myself first, and it's a work in progress. I'm going through these planning processes in real time as I make and update this page, starting on October 21, 2009. It's kind of an online journal on display for the world.

Maybe some of you need to think about this, too. If you've been putting it off just like I have, let's look at it together and make plans for the benefit of both our real-life loved ones and our cherished online friends.

And please share any information you have that would be a good addition to what I've got so far.

Writing here on Squidoo has encouraged me to think about subjects that have been in the back of my mind for a long time but I've never gotten around to making them a reality. This is one of those subjects. I hope that nobody ever has to use these plans, but they'll be ready if needed.

I think I can do this myself

There are professional services like Legacy Locker that will handle this for you for an annual fee. There is also a service called WebWill that is available for an annual fee (WebWill is calling itself "in beta").

But I'm trying to do it myself. I'll save money that way and I'll have complete control over how the information is handled. So far it's coming along fine without professional help, but I'm open to the idea that I may change my mind later.

A video from TheDigitalBeyond

New Year's update

Progress is good. Not perfect, but good.

My goal was to have my end-of-life plans for my online accounts all in place by January 1, 2010.

The holidays were busier than I expected (I got a lot of orders for my online business), so I didn't have as much time to devote to this as I was hoping, but I can report that I have gotten written instructions made for the most important accounts I have. I feel good about how much I have finished so far, and I expect that I can get the rest in the next week or so.

You can see point-by-point how I'm doing on my to-do items in the list below.

It's a fitting coincidence that I started this process on October 21st, my husband's birthday.

Love you, honey!

Three categories of online accounts to consider: Financial, Work-related, and Social

Financial: Smoothing things out for my husband

You know how some homes have one chair that is the "Dad chair", that no one sits in but Papa?

In our home, there is one chair that is the "everybody except Dad chair", and that is the chair in front of the computer. My husband never uses the computer. I read his emails for him and respond to them. I type up the softball league standings for him, and I manage his league website.

If I were not here to manage our online accounts, Tommy would have no idea where to start. Even though we're broke, he would need access to the minuscule amounts of money I've got in the online savings accounts, the kids' college accounts, my IRA and his IRA (he doesn't even know where his own IRA is kept, much less know the password!). I bought a couple of savings bonds online once. I barely know how to get to them myself; he wouldn't have a clue.

I need to make a way for him to gain access all of these. And, truthfully, he'll probably need someone else's help to navigate all of it.

(And in case you're wondering, First Direct is not the online bank that I really use. I'll keep that part private.)

Work-related: Somebody else needs to know the administrator password

I maintain the church web site. I am listed as the owner of the domain name, and the hosting fees are automatically deducted from my personal checking account.

I've got tons of school documents in my GoogleDocs account, and I've been working on an open-source textbook for them.

This one's going to be a lot of work.

Social: I wouldn't want CoolKat881 and LittleCindysMommy to think I just quit speaking to them

I've got to take stock of my blogs and websites. I also manage one yahoogroups email list and one webring. I'm on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Flickr, Helium, and of course, Squidoo. I have domain names registered with Network Solutions and GoDaddy.

Oh, I also subscribed to a web-filtering service on behalf of a friend. Have to figure out how that would be transferred.

How do I remember what accounts I have?

We have so many memberships, that it's hard to recall them all. Here are the places I have looked to get reminders:

My browser bookmarks (among other things, this reminded me of my online accounts for paying the utility bills).

My email archives. Fortunately, I have a habit of archiving all of my "Thank you for joining XYZ" emails.

When I got them all onto one list, it turns out that I am responsible for 56 online accounts!

Have you done this already?

Do you have plans in place for how to handle your online accounts in the event of your demise?

See results

I've found a few web articles on the subject

Some other people have been thinking along the same lines. Most of these articles tend to focus on one particular type of online account.

Online memorial services

I've found a couple of places that will help you put together an online memorial or obituary that can be sent to your contacts in the event of your passing.

Any books about this?

I haven't found one yet that seems to cover all of these issues.

Am I Ready to Die?: Death 101
Am I Ready to Die?: Death 101

This book has a lot of detailed information about making preparations for your financial accounts, including online accounts. When I searched the book, it seemed to come up dry in the areas of workplace and social networking computer issues.


If there's anything else on this topic that I need to add in, please share your suggestions!!

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I usually always think about things like this although it's usually along the line of Game Accounts online MMORPG's, Got to this page by googling that very question. "where do game accounts go when the owner dies (PC)"

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @Joan Haines: A childhood friend committed suicide a couple years ago, his friends know that he died, but continue to "talk" to him on facebook sharing memories. It's kind of sad....

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It's definitely something that I have thought about. I have a password book with all of my usernames and passwords in it. It's funny how nobody really needed to worry about online accounts and passwords 15 years ago!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It's very proactive and thoughtful of you to do this. I think it's important piece of life and most people don't think of before it's too late. Thanks for this lens, it's helped me and I'm sure it will help others too. One other important aspect is backups. I do backups regularly, on a weekly basis and a more thorough one on a monthly basis. All the best as you work towards completing this project...stay blessed!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 

      7 years ago from Kansas

      I've often wondered about this subject as I have businesses online as well. Thanks for the information and links. I'm putting this on my to-do list.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      extremely informative article.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      7 years ago from Keller, Texas

      I have experienced losing my husband and this lens is very information and helpful. Please don't ignor Joan's suggestions! It's a nightmare if you are not in the know.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      this is really good lens!! keep up the good work!!

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      This is a great lens on an important subject. I started making plans to cover my domains and websites several years ago, but I really need to update them all and make sure at least one person I trust has my access info. Thanks for the reminder.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      very informative lens!! good work

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      When you think about this, not only is it really important, it's really amazing just how many places many of us are online and also earn online. It's definitely something WE ought to think about, because we both earn online and it would be terrible to lose that much needed income through not being able to access accounts. Excellent advice, blessed.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      8 years ago

      An online friend was just musing about what happens to one's Facebook account when one dies. I'll send him a link to this lens.

    • javr profile image


      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is quite a comprehensive lens. I have done some of the steps myself but not all. It will be important to keep updating your account lists because they do change over time.

    • ForestBear LM profile image

      ForestBear LM 

      8 years ago

      great information, thank you

    • Susan300 profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent information.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Joan, you really should put this in book form and publish it. There just is nothing else like this page online that I can find. Bet people search for it on Amazon (I did!). It's great information and so important.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I must admit this topic hasn't really crossed my mind until now, guess I have to sit down with a paper and pen and write down all my online stuff! Thanks _Joan_ very much!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      That's a lot to think about! I thought leaving my daughter a list of my passwords might be enough...

    • LisaDH profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent advice! I am going to follow your steps and do this for my online accounts.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for a great lens - I worried about this and started a file with this info so my sister can follow it.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for writing about a topic not many of us want to even think about. I have a lot of records to document just in case...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This subject has been on my mind for awhile now, time to move it to the top of my to do list.

    • Dee Gallemore profile image

      Dee Gallemore 

      8 years ago

      My personal "online presence" system in the event of my passing, definitely needs updating. Reading this has now triggered a few more thoughts I should act on immediately. Thanks for sharing this important information. This lens is featured on Noteworthy & Blessed

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have to say, its never really crossed my mind until now, thanks very much

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 

      8 years ago from SE Michigan

      Thank you for broaching the subject. My husband would probably forget all about the online only accounts if something happened to me.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have never thought about this at all. But just skimming through it is a wake up call that I can't live forever and do this kind of work until the end of time. I do thank you for putting this lens up and hope you will live a many more happy years with your hubby.

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 

      8 years ago from PA

      I never really thought about this.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      You know, I NEVER thought about how my wife would get all the money in my Paypal account or from all my affiliate programs if I died unexpectedly...thanks for bringing this up, here I thought I was a good planner for after death.


      life insurance marketing

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very eye-opening! I never thought about this stuff's always best to prepare, right? Thanks for posting!

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      9 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Some really helpful ideas. I have been thinking about this and I know I need to get going on it.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Fantastically useful lens. I've been thinking about this lately and it's a real bonus to have the process presented in such thorough and thoughtful fashion. Lensrolling to my Prepare for Your Hospital Stay lens, thumbs, etc. Thank you for doing this.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Popped back to visit this most excellent lens (and I still haven't made my list). Blessed :-)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is SUCH a wonderful resource on a topic that should be of primary importance to all of us. Strangely enough, the one that I have never even thought of was how my hubby would get to my Paypal account. Duh! I have stuck this lens on my toolbar so I can quickly find it. I am going to use it as my great inspiration to get my own "ducks in a row"! Thanks for sharing.

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 

      9 years ago

      Wow! This thought has never occurred to me. Much of my life is online too..I am definitely bookmarking this to explore much more deeply

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excuse me, but this idiocy! Is your life so uninteresting and did not think about anything???!

    • ImportEyedeas profile image


      9 years ago

      What an excellent way to handle a very uncomfortable subject! I applaud your personal efforts to organize yourself for all life's unfortunate possibilities and appreciate the information you've made available for the rest of us! 5*'s!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is a great lens and valuable - I'm bookmarking it. Thanks Five Stars

    • RawBill1 profile image


      9 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Wow, this is a great idea. I had never thought of what would happen to all my online accounts if I suddenly departed. Luckily my wife is online just as much as me and is pretty computer savvy! :-)

    • seashell2 profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, lots to think about here.... thanks for sharing and putting this together, will definitely bookmark this one! :-)

    • Diamond Wizard profile image

      Andrea R Brown 

      9 years ago from Fairview

      This definitely does fall into the category of things I need to know. Especially, since I do many things online.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting information! Thanks for sharing. 5***** and Favorited.

    • healthy-me profile image


      9 years ago

      Great Lens Thanks

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 

      9 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD on in bringing a topic that not many of us have thought of. I've made lists of accounts/password -- on paper -- but your lens brings so many more aspects I hadn't thought of. Thank you for sharing this. I'm sure your insight will help many people.

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image


      9 years ago

      Joan, please check my lens Rhey W. Hedges

      He was a beloved poet and on-line friend who died on July 18,2009, yet I only learned about it Jan.16,2010. Most of his on-line acquaintenances had no idea and I'm hoping to change that by informing those I can. When I learned the news, this lens came to mind automatically. I've already ranked it and blessed it so there's little more I can do except promote it and tell you how much your lens has come to mean even more to me than when I initially read it.

    • Richmee profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow! awesome lens. I need to be more organized.

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 

      9 years ago from Quezon City

      Excellent lens on something very important yet so overlooked. Much as I don't want to think about leaving anyone behind (or vice versa) i had started listing down all my usernames & passwords on a safely guarded notebook... *blessed by an angel*

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image


      9 years ago

      Joan, you will want to visit my lens called Angel Belssings.

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      9 years ago from California

      Excellent topic and lens. We actually have a book of accounts, affiliates, etc with passwords. One thing we need to do is to put a copy of it in our safe deposit box in case it gets destroyed by fire, etc. Also, if something happens to both of us, my family will know to look for a safe deposit box but not for some binder among the chaos of my desk! Thanks for sharing and congrats on LOTD! Bear hugs, Frankster

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      First of all, congratulations on being chosen as Lens of the Day ~ that's fantastic! And second, this fits right in with my lens How Will My Virtual Friends Know When I Die?, so I definitely lens-rolled this one to it.

      And most important, I appreciate you sharing how you're figuring out how to do this yourself, for free. I always prefer free.... I'm coming back to this this afternoon to take a closer look and start taking those steps. Well done!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      5***** and favorited great idea for a lens!

      Happy 2010 to you.


    • Bookmama2 profile image


      9 years ago

      So what did you do with this info? Go over it with him? Put it in a co-owned safety deposit box? and what if something happens to both of you, will the kids get the info? I'm curious too because my online income is finally getting to actually amount to something and it has crossed my mind that no one else in my family knows any of the details.

    • joanhall profile imageAUTHOR

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      @Bookmama2: This is still in process, but the way I'm doing it is to have instructions on what to do with each account in an online file (at the suggestion of a commenter I'm not going put the actual passwords in the online file, regardless of password protection). The passwords will be only on paper. My brother is my executor, not my husband. If he were unable to carry out the tasks, there are other family members who could do it.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Congratulations for LotD. I am glad I came back. This needed my 5*s.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      9 years ago from Vermont

      Joan, thank you for the excellent resource and reminder that I must update and organize all my online account information for my family - just in case. This What If ... lens is truly a worthy Lens of the Day - congratulations!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Yes, I knew it was going to be a valuable idea and a kick-in-the- for me to get organized.

    • lakern26 lm profile image

      lakern26 lm 

      9 years ago

      You're right, Joan. This is a very sobering subject, but one that definitely warrants consideration. I've often thought that I need to compile information in a single place so that my husband could access it if need be, for whatever reason including sickness. In most cases, he doesn't know nearly enough about how I manage the household accounts.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and efforts on this subject. You've included a lot of very practical advice here. Congrats on a very well-deserved Lens of the Day!

    • HappyValentinesD profile image


      9 years ago


      Thanks so much for serving this food for thought. I have never previously given much thought to any of this. I've got some preparing to do! Thanks again for serving the community in such a useful manner.

    • VSP profile image


      9 years ago

      Great Idea, I need to add this to my list of things to do.

    • SoyCandleLover profile image

      Beth Webster-Duerr 

      9 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      Joan, you definitely Rock! I thought about doing this since I do everything on the PC, even sign on for the hubby for the few things he does. 5 stars and Fav.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      9 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great lens - and an area that I think many forget about. I suggest to my clients to always keep a log of online accts & passwords in with the rest of their legal docs.

    • AndyDad LM profile image

      Andrew Scott 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice one. I have been thinking about this. My online accounts and passwords etc are written in a (paper) notebook in a format that only I can understand. Good for security, but in the event of untimely ... better take up some of your suggestions. Thanks very much. Congtrats on LOTD. I'll favourite this.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD. This is a very important subject and you have covered it really well.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      9 years ago from USA

      Congrats on LotD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Sad subject but I suppose a good move. I don't want to think about it right now. I should though... hmmmm. Thanks for putting the bug in my ear.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! Nice and creative lens. I have always wondered what would happen to my online accounts if I were gone. You have covered an important topic very well.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      9 years ago from Central Florida

      This is very thought-provoking and one that most of us haven't put any thought to. Thanks for the wake up call.

    • profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      9 years ago

      I had been thinking about this but had not taken any steps yet. Thanks for broaching the subject. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      From bottom of mind to top of mind. Brilliant Lens

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you for bringing such an important topic to the surface. As someone with multiple and significant online income streams, this subject is one that has lurked in the back of my mind for a long time. I will bookmark this page to return to as I complete the checklist.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I never gave the my online activity any thought before. Well deserve LOTD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This lens deserves to be lens of the day. I started my online activity las t august, right here in fact and i now have 40 accounts running. Computers are fantastic tools as long as they work! So what I do is 1) have 2 back ups on hard disk of my " thanks for joining...emails" 2) a big poster in front of my desk with a list of the sites and services i've joined and 3) A notebook with those same accounts and related info : IDs, password, what the account is about. Thing is, I didn't do this with my death in mind, I just did it to avoid getting mixed up, but your lens really does ring a bell. Thanks.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very important subject. Thanks for the tips.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, never thought about the online portion of this topic. I can see where doing this is a must. Thank you for this great lens. Guess I'm going to be busy for awhile!

    • Rusty Quill profile image

      Rusty Quill 

      9 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD :) This is something I certainly have to do myself. You might want to reconsider keeping all your account info in a password-protected file online as it probably isn't as secure as you would imagine. You'd be better off keeping that offline somewhere.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      important subject matter,, good job.

    • AtHomeSource LM profile image

      AtHomeSource LM 

      9 years ago

      I've thought about this often. My problem is I don't know anyone personally that can handle my work online if something were to happen to me.

      How do I find an executer I can trust? I am acquainted with a lot of people online but no one I trust enough to hand over all my info. any suggestions?

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Great lens on handling computer accounts after death, well deserving of LOTD! Congratulations!

    • ZenandChic profile image


      9 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent topic! Congratulations on LOTD.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Joan, this is something that I've had on my mind also recently. Since my husband is the primary source of income, going out every day to work, I help by keeping up with all the financial things and bills, lots of online banking, lots of passwords he would never know, etc., thanks for inspiring me to take steps to put all these scattered details into one orderly place. And congrats on LOTD, very deserving. ~claudia

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What food for thought! We have all got to pop our clogs at some point even though we don't like to think about it.

      Thanks very much for the great information and for the heads up that we need to do this stuff.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      LOTD! ~ Very good food for thought. I have given the info for my accounts to my sister in case something happened to me. We all need to think about the 'what if'.


    • greenerme profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! This is an important topic, thanks for covering it!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a great Lens! Even though I have thought of this, I haven't done a lot to initiate it. I have told that he would need the password to my laptop since everything would be there to start, but then I'm not sure he'd actually get the laptop; no guarantee anyone here would give it to him. So, there are a lot of things to consider here. Thanks so much. Now, I have a new goal to add to my other goals!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations for LOTD! useful information

    • Ecolicious LM profile image

      Penny Pincher G 

      9 years ago

      I've thought of it, but never to this detail. Good ideas. Blessed.

    • thepartyanimal2 profile image


      9 years ago

      Congrats on LOTS for a subject not many think about like myself until I just read this. I tend to keep all m,y accounts and passwords in an address book, but never thought about what if. Thanks for the head up and no it is not something we all like to think about, but we really should. Well deserved and 5*'s

    • joanhall profile imageAUTHOR

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      @pkmcruk: You had given me a secret blessing? You angel, you! Thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is an important subject and one that all of us with an online life, be it just social or social and work, need to consider. I have it a little easier since my hubby is very computer savvy. I have a database on my work computer with all my affiliate info that he could need - passwords are not in it but that is because he knows my passwords and usernames.

      One nice thing about affiliate marketing is that if your spouse is sufficently savvy to continue to pay hosting and domains they really don't need to do anything else at all. The websites/lenses/blogs will go right on making an income which will go right on going into your Paypal or bank account - all on auto pilot. It will be less without constant updating, etc. but it keeps going on. The wife of an online friend who has passed is still collecting income from his websites, and also from the affiliates who signed under him. Sort of a nice thing to think you are leaving behind for them.

    • pkmcruk profile image


      9 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Gosh I think this was one of the very first lenses I blessed when I was a Squid Angel and now look at it! Many congratulations on your LOTD with this incredibly useful lens

    • steveffeo lm profile image

      steveffeo lm 

      9 years ago

      I was discussing this with my Mom at Christmas, very good time for this lens, Thank fully Mom and my sister are into computers, its time for me to take care of this. Great job and Congrats on lens of the Day

    • spunkyduckling profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi joan, I came back to congratulate you on being lens of the day. Well deserved..

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations first on a super dooper LOTD!! Yippee! and secondly, thank you for pulling together info I have talked about for 3 years now! I will now simply use your system! We absolutely must all get serious about this, not just the money, but all the on-line friendships! Very important lens! Thank you!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Excellent lens! Great information.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      congrats on LOTD! and great job on in important subject that woke me up!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      Girl, I am over here dancing for you! Congratulations on a well deserved Lens of the Day!

    • delia-delia profile image


      9 years ago

      great LOTD...5* lens!!! Great suggestions! I start out with every year with this and yet to finish it all...our Will is still not fully complete, like family wipe out(I never thought of that before) You have some very good ideas, and one must remember also where in the country you live as certain rules apply for the state. I hate having to do all this, I have been doing this and finacial aspects since the first day of marriage, it indeed is a burden to carry.

    • profile image

      Leanne Chesser 

      9 years ago

      This is such an important topic. Thanks for sharing your journey with it. Blessed by an angel!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      9 years ago from Concord VA

      You're right, this is a very important thing for everyone to do. I do recommend printing out all of your account and password information and keeping it in a safe place. Congratulations on LOTD!!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Congratulations on lens of the day for this very important and useful information!


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