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What You Need to Know About Your Internet Property Rights

Most of us regularly navigate our way around cyberspace using email accounts, paying bills online, signing up for Internet versions of newspapers and magazines -- and a host of other services. Likewise, many Americans of all ages have purchased download rights to vast numbers of songs on websites like iTunes and its competitors.                                                     Unfortunately, when you die – all of this online property ceases to be yours since nearly all of it was simply personally licensed to you. Although you can probably leave your personal representative or executor your password/username information for one more download of your music -- you cannot give away your ownerships rights to such property.  Eventually, your account will just be deleted by the website owners.                                                                                     Of course, if you’re married and you and your spouse have always banked online using the same accounts, you can almost certainly keep doing this if you were the named POD (Payable on Death) beneficiary of the accounts – or if they were named in the will and were left to you. (Always be sure you and your spouse keep an updated list -- in a designated place -- of all of your usernames and passwords for all of your separate or combined online accounts).            Here are Some Other Facts to Keep in Mind About Your Online Accounts/Property

  • Even social media account materials cannot be left to others. Just be sure to leave your password/username information in an easily located place so that one of your loved ones can log in and remove your entire profile. If you fail to do this, your survivors can probably only later succeed in getting the entire profile removed – they will probably be unable to obtain copies of anything posted on the site;
  • Make sure you’ve left written instructions for someone to take down your accounts with sites like eBay, Amazon and other shopping/selling websites after you pass away. Should you owe any funds, ask your executor to obtain documentation of the fees still owing and then pay all of them off if they’re legitimate. (If they are unusually high, your personal representative may have to obtain court permission to pay off such debts);
  • Leave instructions for someone to discontinue your accounts with Web hosting companies like Go Daddy. Once again, leave the access information in an easily located place and advise your personal representative to take the site down since no one else is normally allowed to inherit it from you;
  • Request that all of your personal utility website accounts be removed -- like those you’ve used to pay your Internet, phone, electricity and other utility service bills.

 

While this list isn’t intended to be comprehensive, it can provide you with important ideas for the types of added documents you need to create, in addition to your will and basic estate planning documents. Of course, be sure you only leave this type of information for someone you fully trust since no one needs to have a casual acquaintance siphoning funds out of his or her checking or savings accounts right after passing away.

 

To obtain help with satisfying all of your Georgia estate planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia