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What’s in that Online User Agreement You Accepted?

I-agreeMost of us click the box and don’t think twice about what’s in “Terms of Use Agreement” when we check the box to “Accept”.

The typical web user has 25 online accounts, ranging from social media to online banking (according to a 2007 study from Microsoft). Did you know that most include a clause that makes your assets non-transferable upon death and many will force account deactivation?

Even if the rights are given to you in a Will or Durable Power of Attorney (POA), using them can be difficult. As I found when I tried to act on my parents behalf when they were both alive — you may have the right by law and on paper — but that doesn’t make the vendor accept that you have the legal right. After several financial firms told me they wouldn’t accept the POA my parents completed in 2002 (if was over two or five years old which was their requirement), we ended up drafting a new one. Most lawyers will tell you they don’t go stale — but I didn’t have the time to pursue a legal battle with banks — thankfully — I found out before it was too late for my parents to sign a new POA.

I learned that having the paper with the rights isn’t as easy to use as you are lead to believe. Even if you are named the “digital executor” it won’t guarantee you have the power to bestow access to your loved ones.

You have the power to make this a simple matter. Write down your usernames and passcodes and put them in a place your loved one could find if they need to use it. One way to document this information is in a MemoryBanc Register. Experienced.

Two current news stories on this topic can be found here:

What Happens to your digital life after death? (12/2/2013) Pew Research Center

What Happens to Digital Assets when you Die? (12/2/2013) Grand Rapids Business Journal 

4 comments on “What’s in that Online User Agreement You Accepted?

  1. […] month I wrote What’s in that Online User Agreement You Accepted? and a recent article in the Wicked Local Lexington discussed Navigating the Retirement Maze: […]

  2. […] I feel like I was lucky. Because my parents had dementia, I had time to work with them to collect and organize much of their household information. My parents had completed their estate plans, and I held a Durable Power of Attorney. When that didn’t work or we found that it could take weeks and even months to navigate the approval process. We ended up setting up online access to most of their accounts to allow me to easier help my parents. Shhhh, don’t tell — it’s against most online user agreements. […]

  3. […] of 40, forty three percent of Americans will have a long-term disability event before they are 65. Your fate and access to your accounts is dictated by the provider. When you accepted the “Terms and Conditions” you agreed to their rules. Some states […]

  4. […] that can access your email and give access to someone else if something should happen to you. The Terms and Conditions of the user agreements you accepted preclude the ability of others, even with a “Digital Durable Power of Attorney” from […]

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