Category Archives: Beneficiary Basics

Designated Beneficaries. Primary beneficaires. Contingent Beneficiaries. Payable upon death beneficaries. transfer on death beneficaries. Estate is the beneficiary. Joint Tenancy with rights of survivorship.

Social Security numbers – will online access be cut off?

Last week, Representative Sam Johnson of Texas introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that, if passed, will limit access to Social Security numbers available online.

The act, entitled “Keeping IDsSafe Act of 2011″ (KIDS Act), is intended to end online access to the Social Security Death Master File. This file currently enables anyone to easily locate the Social Security number of a deceased person. The File has been used for more than ten years by identity thieves to, among other things, file bogus tax returns to the IRS and collect refunds.

The bill was introduced two days after senators met with the Social Security Administration Commissioner, Michael Astrue, to ask the agency to limit information currently released in the death file.

As reported in a recent Scripps Howard News Service article, the need for access to this file to be limited was graphically illustrated when the parents of Benny Watters of Lake Forest, Illinois filed a tax return in August of this year. Benny died at age 5 in September 2010 and the Watters tax return was rejected. Why? Someone else had stolen the boy’s identity and claimed him as a dependent!

There have been recent news reports that say the IRS flagged 350,000 potentially fraudulent 2010 tax returns requesting $1.25 billion in refunds using information gathered about the dead.

The bill introduced by Johnson would limit access to the death file to law enforcement. Tax administrators and government researchers.

To find out more about this topic and other online identity thefts, check out “Grave Robbers…How to Stop the Identity theft of the Deceased.”

When I Go Away: Getting Your Digital Affairs in Order

I just read an article which talks about the need to leave information about your online accounts so your heirs will know what they have to deal with after you die. It’s well worth reading for the information it provides. What it doesn’t tell you is exactly what you have to do to close out or memorialize those accounts. Grave Robbers, our book about how to prevent identity theft of the deceased, does. In addition, there’s information on our site about how to handle the most popular digital sites.

25 Documents You Need Before You Die

Recently, the Wall Street Journal weekend edition had a very interesting article titled “25 Documents You Need Before You Die.”

Basically, it says that you should make sure that the originals of all of your valuable papers are put somewhere safe and that a loved one knows where that safe place is. Otherwise, when you become incapacitated or after you die there may be a great deal of frustration and unnecessary work as your heir or estate representative tries to figure out what you’ve done and how to prove it.

Check out this article and also check out Die Smart for more information on what to do.

Who Owns Your Digital Assets When You Die

Digital assets are making dying even more complicated.    As more and more of our life is portrayed in a digital form, a key question is evolving in the legal community:   “Who Owns Your Digital Assets When You Die?”

The  New York Times posted an interesting article regarding your digital assets,   “Cyperspace When You Are Dead.”

Today, there are no common policies or laws covering the disposition of your digital assets when you die.    In fact, each Internet Service Provider sets their own policy.    Google is different than Facebook.   Facebook is different than Yahoo.   In some instances, businesses may find they can’t get access to hosted accounts because someone doesn’t leave behind their passwords.   You can find out the policies regarding your digital assets at Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Comcast, etc. at diesmart.com.