You may guess it’s the password to your online bank account, to Facebook or to a shopping site. Those are all important but there’s one that it’s critical you share with a loved one. It’s the password to your email account.
Why is this so important? When you die, your loved one or executor will try to access all of your online accounts so that they can close them down or, if necessary, continue their use. For example, they may want to shut down your account on Amazon since you won’t be doing any more shopping. Or, if you pay your utility bills online, they may want to continue to pay them until they sell your home.
You may use the same login information and password for all of your accounts but chances are that you have several different ones. However, most of the accounts have a system that will enable a user to recover a forgotten login or password. The user just needs to know how to access the email account linked to that other site so he or she can recover the information when it is sent out.
Although it is not strictly legal for you to share your password and login information, it is the easiest way to ensure that when you’re gone, your executor will be able to easily access your information and settle your estate.
For more information about digital estates and the steps you should take to be sure you have included them in your planning process, check out our book “Access Denied ” or go to our site www.diesmart.com.
Any free Yahoo account will automatically be cancelled after it has been inactive for 90 days. Premium services, however, will continue to be charged until Yahoo has been officially notified of the death of the account holder.
Only a person who has the authority to settle the deceased’s estate, i.e. an executor, can notify them about the death. To do that, the following information must be sent to Yahoo at Custodian of Record, Yahoo Inc., 701 First Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94089-1019:
1) The executor’s identification.
2) Notification of their appointment as executor.
3) A Copy of the death certificate.
What if the executor or family member just wants the deceased’s password or access to their Yahoo account? No password will be issued by Yahoo to the executor or anyone else.
The simple answer is yes. If no action is taken, your account will remain in cyberspace forever.
However, the MySpace account of someone who is deceased can be cancelled by their next of kin (mother, father, spouse, domestic partner, son or daughter). That person will need to send proof of death (obituary or death certificate) to firstname.lastname@example.org. That email should come from the personal email account of the person who is writing. It should include an explanation of that person’s relationship to the deceased and the deceased’s MySpace friend ID (which can be found by clicking on the profile and copying the string of numbers or letters at the end of the URL) as well as the specific request to delete the profile.
Other options available are to preserve the profile as is or to remove some of the content that may no longer be appropriate. MySpace will be glad to remove any content that is found objectionable.
Another choice is to create a memorial for the deceased – a group page to honor that person. That page is then linked to the deceased’s MySpace profile.
If there is access to the email account tied to the deceased’s MySpace profile, the password can be obtained thru the Forgot Password link located on the MySpace home page. If there is no access, the password will not be provided by MySpace.
If you do nothing, the deceased’s account will be removed by the folks at LinkedIn after being inactive for at least six months.
However, it’s easy to cancel the account. You don’t have to be the next of kin or executor; in fact, you don’t even have to be a blood relative. A friend or coworker can do it.
LinkedIn recently updated their procedure and now indicates all of the steps on their website. Go to http://www.linkedin.com/and click on the link to Customer Service at the bottom of the page. A list of FAQs (frequently asked questions) will appear. Look for the one which says “Form: Verification of Death”. Just complete the form and then follow the directions on how to return it.
If, instead, you just want to get the deceased’s password, you’re out of luck. Unless you have access to the deceased’s primary LinkedIn email account and can request that it be sent there, you will be unable to receive a password for the account.
If a loved one has left his or her login information – user name and password – where you can find it, there’s no problem. All you have to do is the following:
1) Open the account that you want to delete.
2) Go to Account Settings.
3) Look for the Deactivate Account button at the bottom of the page.
4) Just click on it and the account is deactivated.
Another option is to memorialize the account. This means that certain sensitive information is removed from the account and privacy is set so only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in a search. The Wall remains so these friends and family can leave posts in remembrance. To memorialize an account, go to http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhelp%2Fcontact.php%3Fshow_form%3Ddeceased&h=e5091bd54d848d4ca97832694b87dcd0. This will bring up a list of Facebook FAQs; one of them says “I’d like to report a deceased user or an account that needs to be memorialized.” Within that FAQ is a link to the correct form where you will need to enter the information requested.
Facebook says “that in order to protect the privacy of the deceased user, we cannot provide login information for the account to anyone.” They do claim to honor requests from close family members to close the account completely; however, we were unable to find any information on how to do so.
Perhaps the deceased’s account will remain in cyberspace forever!