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What to Do Online ... When You're Dead

eBay requires similar documentation for a survivor to access a decedent's eBay seller's account. eBay does not grant access to a buyer's account, however.

Facebook (FB) preserves the deceased person's profile as a memorial after the user dies. The company doesn't give login and password information to anyone, but Facebook responds to requests from the immediate family to remove the profile.

Prepare now

So what can you do now to make sure these assets are handled the way you intend?

Doing nothing is a viable option, but not an ideal one. Most email providers eventually delete all of your old emails, and domains expire after a while if not renewed. Domain names sometimes automatically renew on a designated credit card. Credit cards expire, but that could take years. If any of your electronic assets have an economic or emotional value, you should take action while you are alive.

You could include instructions in your will or trust for taking care of your online life. The probate court must honor the wishes of the deceased, but the legal right to close and transfer accounts is logistically difficult. Also, online accounts and passwords change frequently, making it difficult and time consuming to identify the electronic assets of the deceased.

Keep a flash drive and letter of instruction with information and login details for all of your accounts. Tell a family member or responsible friend the location of this device and instructions. Keep it in a secure place and be sure to update the information as needed.

Use a password program such as 1Password or LastPass to store your logins and passwords. These programs encrypt and store your information online and anyone with a master password that you create can access them.

In addition to your traditional will, set up a digital will. Services such as LegacyLocker and DeathSwitch allow you to maintain your electronic assets, including account numbers and passwords. After your death, they release your information to the designated person. For security purposes, these services independently verify your death. Both services have limited free trials to test them out.

If you are concerned about turning over all of your login information to someone you don't know, you can entrust your user names to one of these services and passwords to family members, so that each side's information is useless without the other.

-- By Russell Francis, owner of Portland Fixed Income Specialists in Beaverton, Ore. His website is here.

AdviceIQ is a network of financial advisors that writes insightful articles for the public about investing and wealth management. All articles are edited by AdviceIQ's editor in chief, Larry Light. AdviceIQ certifies that all its advisors have no regulatory infractions.

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AdviceIQ is a network of financial advisors that writes insightful articles for the public about investing and wealth management. All articles are edited by AdviceIQ's editor in chief, Larry Light. AdviceIQ certifies that all its advisors have no regulatory infractions.

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