Since I started this Blog, in early 2012, I have often provided Posts regarding events that
have taken place in my Family: updating our Estate Plans; Steps to take pre- and post-Retirement; Birth of a Grandchild; etc. Each is different, and should be updated over time. But, there really needs to be more.
There is an interesting article, from Slate.COM, which suggests something that I missed: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/09/digital_assets_how_do_you_handle_a_loved_one_s_online_accounts.html. Naomi Cahn and Amy Ziettlow recommend that we should not forget Digital Assets. Let’s face it, as more and more people have FaceBook Pages, Tweet and use all the other Social Media–even at quite advanced ages–it is good for the Family, Executor, Health Care Surrogate and Attorney-in-Fact to have access to them.
Some of the information that is now included on the Internet was often included in a signed and Notarized letter, which was kept with the Will. Remember that, in times of grief or urgency, Safe Deposit Boxes might not be the proper place for such documents. Also, in some states, the box might be frozen upon the Death of one Owner–even for Joint Accounts. But, nowadays, much of this information is listed on a computer.
The linked article notes several good-to-know points: First, your Mother/Father might have paid their bills On-Line. So, in order to keep the house operating (electric/utilities), these are bills that you will want to keep up-to-date; Second, be sure to have the User Names and Passwords for anything that you might need access to; Third, there might be personal information that you, as the next-of-kin (if that’s the case) never knew.
Point Number Three points-out something that you might be especially grateful to learn. Steve had become estranged from his Mother over the years; however, as he was there for her when she needed it, she posted her appreciation on FaceBook. It is always best, however, to say these things in person, if possible.
A last point that I have been thinking of is the Son or Daughter, who lives far away, and will be handling the Parent’s “Affairs”. I recommend that you provide them with a copy of your Estate Plan (Will, Trust perhaps, Durable P/A and Health Care Surrogate). In their haste to get to the Airport (maybe from work), they might not bring a copy of the necessary Documents and Forms. Accordingly, providing a set of them–perhaps sealed with Son’s/Daughter’s name on the envelope–a trusted Friend, who might be the first one at the Hospital (or whatever) can give them to the Executor, P/A or Surrogate.