How would he get to my PayPal account if I died tomorrow?
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?
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.
- What Happens To Your Email and Social Networking Accounts When You Die?
From MakeUseOf.com. This article talks about the policies that various email and social networking sites have for dealing with accounts of people who have died. This is information that would be very useful if someone you know passes away without lea
- What Happens to Your Web Business if You Die?
From ArtOfMoney.org. This one talks about planning in advance for people who have an online business that they hope will continue running after their demise. One of our own commenters (foovay) also talked about the benefit it can be to one's family
- Blogging Wills - What happens to your Blogs When You Die?
From ProBLogger.net. This article is geared toward people who blog for money in a serious way. The author is planning a way to turn his blogs over to his wife for her to carry forward and keep getting the income.
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.
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!!