Elderly parents may not have as robust of an online presence as their children and grandchildren. However, that does not mean their digital and virtual lives are non-existent. Many people have email, social media, bank accounts and other digital assets, and managing these assets when they pass away can be crucial.
Unfortunately, people do not always understand the significance of their online property, especially when they are not avid tech users. If this sounds like your parent, there are some helpful things you can do to help them address digital needs and protect their assets.
- Take stock of what they have. Your parent likely has email and perhaps a social media account, which may be all that you think they have. But dig deeper and talk to them about what they do on the computer or their phones. You will likely discover that they have photo libraries, banking accounts, recurring subscriptions or automatic bill-pay, and possibly even cryptocurrency. These and other digital assets can have value, so it is crucial to identify these things.
- Secure login information. There are several reasons why another person may need to access digital assets. Maybe he or she needs to close an account or change contact information; there may be assets that another person will continue to manage after the owner’s death. Because of this, your parents should know the login details for their digital property. Make sure your parent records this data and keeps it in a safe place that only certain people can access under specific circumstances.
- Discuss who should manage individual accounts. Talk to your parents about what they want to happen with their digital assets. Also, discuss who should be the person to handle these details. Will it be their executor? Their spouse? One of their children? Knowing who this person is can minimize confusion and contention.
- Help them avoid scams. Avoiding scams is one of the most critical elements of protecting digital accounts and property online. Educate your parents on tactics like phishing, and explain that they should never give personal information, passwords or money to someone they do not know online.
No matter how simple or complex your parent’s digital assets may be, it is important to take these steps to safeguard them.