Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Protecting Your Digital Assets

We live in an age where technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that it makes Usain Bolt look slow. Alright, perhaps that's an exaggeration but you understand the comparison I'm trying to draw. If you don't know who Usain Bolt is, google him.
 
Technology is changing everything we do in our daily lives and it's disrupting many of the norms that have long prevailed across all industries. An area I would like to address today is your online presence, including but not limited to; your Facebook profile, your Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, PayPal, Amazon, Ebay so on and so forth. This is an issue I've rarely heard brought up by clients or by anyone for that matter. What happens to these profiles/accounts when you pass away? Who has access to them? Who can login and claim any assets that were left behind? These are all very real questions in a world where your online presence is nearly, if not, just as important as your physical presence. Hence the reason I chose this topic to blog about today; it seems quite relevant and I think people should give this idea more thought.
 
Through research, I've come up with three ways to consider: 
  • For starters, and perhaps the easiest way of handling this situation is to ask a provider if they offer an online option to indicate how the account is to be handled upon your death. Google for example, has an "Inactive Account Manager" that allows the owner to determine how their account should be handled if they pass away.
  • If that is not an option my next recommendation would be to put your instructions into a legal document such as a will, trust agreement, or power of attorney. Having precise instructions written out in a legal document will always hold up in court so this could very likely be your best method of ensuring your wishes are met. Some states have a document called "My 5 Wishes" which is essentially a shortened version of a will which can be used to record your instructions.
  • Finally, if the previous two options are unavailable to you for whatever reason, then it will fall on the terms of service for each individual website to determine how the account or assets will be managed. Clearly, this is a worst case scenario and utilizing one of the previous suggestions would be a far superior plan. However, deaths do occur unexpectedly and truthfully I can see how these accounts would be some of the last that people would ever think to take care of.
My firm has recently introduced a relatively new product in the financial industry called eMoney. This program allows our clients access to an online vault that has data encryption up to the same level that the FBI uses. We urge clients to keep copies of all their important records such as passwords, online account logins, drivers license, passports etcetera in this vault so that they have access to it through their mobile app or client website from anywhere in the world.
 
If you have any questions about how I can help better protect your online presence or about eMoney and all of it's wonderful features I encourage you to reach out to me. My email is Mcirelli@saifinancial.com
 
Invest On & Prosper
 
The services, tools and information, as well as privacy and security measures, offered herein are provided by eMoney Advisor, LLC. For more information on eMoney’s privacy policy and security safeguards, please
visit www.eMoneyadvisor.com. Woodbury Financial and Michael Cirelli
make no representations or warranties of any kind about the information, products or services contained herein.

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