Who is able to delete your online accounts, should you die?

Posted on: November 24th, 2013

I was taking a trawl through all my 600+ Linkedin contacts the other day and was dismayed to see that a long-standing friend and previous colleague who had tragically drowned on holiday 18 months ago was still listed as a contact. She is also still there as a friend on Facebook.

I can only imagine that she hadn’t shared her online passwords with anyone. After all, Facebook’s policy states it won’t release login information to anyone other than the account holder.

Who knows your passwords?

So it got me thinking about the importance of drawing up such a password list and entrusting it to a partner/spouse in the event of our death. For example, my husband has no idea how many accounts I have with various online retailers, social media platforms and online service providers. Let alone the passwords for them.

By the same token, would you know your partner’s passwords for their PayPal, LinkedIn, Skype, online banking and Dropbox accounts?

I had a look at Facebook’s help Q&A pages and, if you don’t have the log in details and want to remove the account of a loved one who has died, Facebook states:

“We require verification that you are an immediate family member or executor. Requests will not be processed if we are unable to verify your relationship to the deceased. Examples of documentation that we will accept include:

  • The deceased’s birth certificate
  • The deceased’s death certificate
  • Proof of authority under local law that you are the lawful representative of the deceased or his/her estate.

You can find out more about this here.

Make a list

It may be a morbid thought, but we never know when our time will be up, so I would urge you to make a list of all your online passwords. If you already have such a list as your own aide-memoire, share it with a trusted person. After all, it’s not just a matter of deleting certain online presences like Twitter and Facebook, people may need access to critical files and to your online banking and savings accounts.

I then did a bit of research and found a service called Legacy Locker where, once you have created an account, you “identify all your online assets, entering the website, username and password for each asset. As you enter assets, you’ll assign them to your beneficiaries, the people to whom you wish to pass on your sensitive information”.

I have no idea what this service is like, as I have only had a cursory look at the site but I thought I’d share the link anyhow so you can have a look for yourself.

How Stuff Works has an interesting article about ‘What happens to all my social networking information when I die?

I’d be interested to know what thoughts, if any, you may have given to this subject of online passwords. Let me know in the comments box below.

Image courtesy of foto76 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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