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You may not realize it yet, but your online accounts have a life of their own, including password protected devices like an iPad.  Do you have an effective plan for passing your growing iTunes music library or your Amazon video library?  Here are some steps to take that can avoid the necessity of your heirs having to get a court order.

Google:

A link to this page lets you tell Google that you need to handle a deceased user’s account.  Among the options are: requesting any funds in their account, closing the account, obtaining data from the account, and perhaps more urgently, notifying Google of a potential hijacking of a deceased user’s account. 

For your own accounts, Google offers the Inactive Account Manager.  You have the option of setting up rules about what happens if you don’t access your account for a certain period.  Once the time period you’ve specified has gone by (and you haven’t responded to Google’s built-in email and text notices) the contacts you have selected will be notified and given access to the data.  Or, you could delete the account.

Facebook:

Facebook has a new feature called a “Legacy Contact” which allows the named person to access and modify your account after you die.  This option replaces the leave the account open or delete the account dilemma in which Twitter and LinkedIn still place surviving family members.

Other Accounts:

For other accounts, you’ll have to resort to less high-tech strategies.  Create a list of important accounts, for example, any photo storage site you use, online bank accounts or funds (bitcoin?), cloud storage, blogs, and any other social media accounts you have.  The list can be a computer file or a piece of paper.  Next, make sure your executor or successor trustee knows where the list is and how to access it. 

Another tool to consider is a password manager like LastPass or Keeper or Dashlane.  See The Best Password Managers of 2016, PC Mag, July 2016.

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