19 Dec Digital Ghosts: How Your Identity Lives on After Death
Your physical body dies, but Facebook is forever. What you post on your social media platforms is available here long after you’ve moved on to the Great Internet in the Sky.
Most of what you contribute to your accounts is probably harmless. But in some cases it can cause estate problems for family. Here is a look at the impact of your posts and how you and your family can handle them.
From Identity Theft to Lawsuits
Identity theft and financial lost are the biggest dangers of leaving social media accounts open after a person dies or becomes incapable of handling their own affairs. Criminals can hack your shopping accounts, bank accounts and personal data.
They can harvest financial information and personal data from your profiles and posts. There is a real danger that assets will end up as unclaimed funds, creating headaches for executors.
If a lawsuit is in progress when you die, social media posts can give your opponents evidence to bolster their case. If a relative decides to contest your will, the social posts can provide them with insights to help them further their claim.
It’s not just your internet accounts that leave a big data footprint. Your computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone also contain personal information. With the Internet of Things, all your mobile devices can be linked and share data.
Take Steps Now
Do you want others to have access to your emails, photos, data and documents after you’re gone? Probably not. The time to handle future problems is now.
List the accounts, usernames and passwords for your online presence in your estate documents and power of attorney. These can include:
- Social media accounts
- Shopping accounts
- Bank and financial institution accounts
- Tax and government accounts
- Video, photo and music accounts
- Email accounts
In your will and estate papers, specifically give your executors permission to access your accounts. This will avoid problems with privacy laws.
Find out how to remove data from your electronics. Leave all the necessary instructions in your estate papers.
And if you are a family member, don’t be sentimental and feel you are memorializing your loved one by keeping their accounts active. Close accounts to avoid identity theft.