In a Wall Street Journal article titled “What a Tangled Wed We Leave,” the complications that online banking and bill-paying can cause after the death of a loved one are explained.
The article follows a 51 year old woman after the death of her husband. While the couple had wills in place and thought they had taken care of everything, the surviving spouse faced many unexpected problems while tying up loose ends online.
While the internet can cause complications after death, there are ways to help avoid potential problems.
- Properly title assets.
For real estate, the deed can provide for joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. This means that after either you or your spouse die, the survivor will own the property.
Also, make sure that both you and your spouse are joint owners on other assets such stocks, US savings bonds, bank accounts, CDs and brokerage accounts.
- Be careful with joint accounts.
Make sure you understand what happens when you add another person, such as a child, as a joint owner on an account. That person has access to all of your money that is in the account. Also, when you die, that joint owner now owns all of the money in the account, even if you have other children.
- Have a list of your online passwords.
After the death of a loved one, it may be difficult to recover email addresses, family photos and other information without the necessary online passwords.
When making a list of online passwords, first focus on those with monetary value such as online banking, iTunes accounts, and airline accounts with frequent flyer miles.