The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Business & Technology

September 18, 2013

Your Facebook password belongs in your will

Your mother has just entered hospice care, and she is declining quickly. Suddenly there are a million questions you are supposed to have answered in advance: Is there a will? What should we do with the house, the old china, the dog? Most of them involve money, beloved objects, or family history, but in the digital age, there are less tangible assets we almost never stop to think about.

Once we might have treasured a loved one's voice on a recording, or their image on an old video, but now their digital footprint is scattered. Like most Americans, our loved ones will most likely access more than two dozen password-protected sites on different computers and a smartphones, storing and sharing the vulnerable, mundane and whimsical details of life while connecting with family and friends. The average American values his or her digital assets, such as photo libraries, personal communication, and entertainment files, at about $55,000, a value based on sentimental attachments as well as financial investments in music, application and software purchases. As we plan for inheriting the house and family keepsakes, we must include our digital lives as well. And, as we help our parents plan, we need to remember to take care of our own digital presence.

Risk No. 1: Online Bills

When Cara, 22, graduated from college, she returned home to spend the summer with her mother. After her mother was hospitalized for a heart attack, Cara spent every moment she could at her mother's bedside. When Cara returned home the night that her mother died, she found that the electricity was shut off. Apparently, she had been defaulting on online bills without realizing that there was no automatic payment system set up — or hard copies that would arrive each month as a reminder that payment was due. Although Cara was able to find all of her mother's log-ins for bill payment on her computer, she didn't have all of the passwords to access the accounts. She tried to convert the online bills back to paper statements, a process that wasn't easy or quick.

Text Only
Business & Technology
  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • NASA's moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

    April 18, 2014

  • Local farmers honored DES MOINES -- Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that Marty and Michael Burken who run Blue Hyll Dairy in rural Clinton County have been named the April winners of the "Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award." Northey will present

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-19-14 FBLA photo CHS Future Business Leaders of America attend conference Thirty members of the Clinton High School Future Business Leaders of America attended their spring leadership conference at the Marriott Coralville from March 26-29. Students attending the conference competed against other Iowa students in state and

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S. stock market rebounds after choppy day A stock market swoon turned into a comeback Tuesday. Stocks managed a late-afternoon rebound for the second time in two days as investors seemed to brush off a report of lower confidence among homebuilders and simmering tensions in the Ukraine. The l

    April 16, 2014

  • Document shredding offered CLINTON -- A Clinton bank will provide document shredding this weekend. The free service will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Citizens First Bank's office at 1442 Lincoln Way. This is the 10th year the bank has offered this service, Citizens Fi

    April 15, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tax fraud Bogus tax refunds a growing problem WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An Internet connection and a bunch of stolen identities are all it takes for crooks to collect billions of dollars in bogus federal tax refunds. And the scam is proving too pervasive to stop. A government report in November said t

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook