Websites, Passwords and Home Page for Recently Deceased

My husband recently unexpectedly passed away. I don’t know how to deal with the websites he visited, passwords in iCloud and his Yahoo home page. He only used a MacBook Pro to get in the internet. He has an iPhone 6, but only went to his Yahoo home page and MLB on it.

All financial institutions have blocked his sign ons. These passwords are still in iCloud.

  1. Some of the websites like ESPN and MLB he didn’t have passwords for. He just wanted the Yankees scores. I think others may have passwords, but I don’t know the sites nor passwords. He has a list in his Favorites/History. How do I close them permanently because there isn’t an Unsubscribe button?

  2. Passwords in iCloud; do I just delete the password in iCloud? Go to the website AND ….? Or? He seems to have multiple passwords for the same sites, too— probably because he couldn’t remember the password!

  3. How long do I leave his Yahoo Home page open? I have filtered it and he still gets a lot of spam. Nothing important has shown up in the past week.

Any advice will be truly appreciated.

Jane Sprando

Jane, so sorry for your recent loss, it must be difficult to work through all the threads online,

Having secured the financial accounts which you have obviously done, you are looking at the remainder of his online life.

I would ask you how much it might bother you to just leave them be? The accounts will just go dormant. If it was simply browsing or logging on to check scores, what’s the harm in leaving it? You may wish to, of course, tidy up all his affairs, but that requires closing the account with each of the relevant sites. Passwords and login details would be kept in Keychain Access, You could check that app and work through them, presuming you have his main login password.

Yahoo page is probably his email, right? If there’s a possibility that is how an important site deals with him, like a bank, or an insurance company, you might consider leaving that alone for a while until it goes consistently quiet or you get important relationships you wish to maintain transferred to your email account.

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What a terrible loss, and I addition to Tommy’s good advice, I suggest you make sure you delete and not just deactivate any of the the accounts. A lot of websites and services want to keep personal information in the loop no matter what the circumstances are.

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At 73, I am at the stage of my life where peers are leaving this plane of existence. I have to say I do appreciate it when the next of kin leaves the deceased Facebook or LinkedIn page of the deceased active.

As silly as it seems, the birthday reminder of my deceased friend comforts me. Sometimes I will send birthday greetings to the account, knowing my friend will never see it, unless there are spirits and ghosts moving among us.

Sometimes, a friend checks the Facebook page years after the death, and for this person, they learn for the first time that the friend we both knew and cared for, had departed.

I don’t believe in heaven or hell or an afterlife. I believe immortality is achieved only through the memory of those left behind.

To me, keeping the Facebook or Linked In page active is a form of immortality. I am comforted that the children of my grandchildren (who are at the moment, unborn) will be able to search their family history and see what their great-grandfather’s life was like in the 2000s.

How long these websites will keep the data active and available is the one big unknown.

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Norman, my husband did not have any social media pages —he didn’t even know the term! Thank you for your thoughts.

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Tommy, thank you! it comforts me to go to his Yahoo home page because he did that every day and it was normal I want to see his email address. He received a lot of political stuff and those I sent to spam —-no unsubscribing link.

As for our bank, they deactivated his user name very soon after his passing —-not even notifying me or giving me the chance to transfer bill paying info to my user name! Our other financials terminated his user name also. But I still have those user names and passwords in KeyChain. Should I just delete them since they no longer work?

You’re very diligent! You could of course delete them. I regularly clear old defunct passwords from Keychain Access but mainly to not confuse myself. That’s not a likely outcome in your case.

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I’m so sorry to hear this, Jane. As others have noted, there are some interesting questions about whether it makes more sense to delete accounts (to reduce the chance of identity theft in the future) or to maintain them for sentimental/historical reasons. I don’t think there are any solid answers there—it will be what you feel most comfortable with.

I am a little surprised that financial institutions would have disabled his accounts; I would have expected that to happen only on instructions from his estate’s executor (you). It sounds like you have a good bit of untangling to do to get them to give you the access you need to wind down all the accounts and bill pays and the like. Sorry…

In general, I recommend that you don’t delete any usernames or passwords or other data that you could conceivably need in the future. If you have a note capability alongside the stored passwords, you can say what they’re for and that you don’t think you’ll need them again. I’m a bit of a packrat, but I’ve usually been rewarded by having access to things instead of deleting them when there’s no real downside.

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Adam, good advice. Thank you. I will hold off deleting any user names/passwords for a while and see what can go (ordering his annual Yankee desk calendar) and what I should leave alone.

Jane

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My sincere condolences on your loss, Jane. These are not fun topics but sadly necessary. I hope that I do not overload you with information. Please be aware that nothing below is urgent…

I would also endorse Adam’s idea to leave things as is on your husband’s computer, in case it later grants you access or details to something you do not realize you need at this time. If you do not need to use his computer daily for your own work, this makes things easier.

However, I am not surprised by financial institutions locking accounts. It does not always happen, but with more systems being computerized and put online the chances of automatic notifications becomes much more likely. While it can be a hassle for the family, this should help protect the assets and estate from fraud until you can get organized. I have seen this in recent years with clients and a family member’s passing. Some banks and other accounts become locked quickly, requiring the county d. certificate and in one case the children had to provide a probate form to gain access. As you are married, the probate form should not apply to your case.

On the subject of passwords, as you get a handle on his accounts, be sure to record them somewhere separate that you can keep safe for your own use. As time permits, it may be a good idea to change passwords for important accounts or those you intend to keep. Your husband may not have changed his passwords for a very long time and you can use more complex ones to help lock out troublemakers. This is also a good time to change the contact email address for an account if you choose (another way to increase security by making yourself the prime contact).

I mention the password and email changes because they are a less-obtrusive way to retain control with out “notifying” an organization you do not need to (with the exception of banks and other financial institutions of course). Facebook and other online systems may respond to notifications in draconian ways by locking accounts completely. So it is easier to just keep them going as is for now (except for password/email change).

If you are concerned about network security on his computer and use WiFi, you can just easily turn it off from the top, right menu. If using another connection type (ethernet) you can make an easy “switch” to disconnect from the internet by creating a new “Location” (Apple menu > Location). There is an Apple support page describing the feature, but I would be happy to provide a short, concise, step-by-step version if you decide you want this.

As always, I am sure the TB community here is open to further questions and discussion to help you through this difficult time.

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Hi Jane. Sorry for your loss.
There is some related advice here:

Apple also has advice:

In my case I had helped a relative set up their iCloud account and some other accounts and he hadn’t changed the passwords that I created so I could access the accounts and manage them.

It seems that Australian banks freeze accounts, even those in a joint name, as soon as they become aware of a death of an account holder.

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This serves as a good reminder for each of us to have someone who knows our passwords and how to get at financial records. My wife was on her mother’s bank account when she died, so they didn’t close that one, but the brokerage accounts became inherited accounts as of the day of her death. Interestingly, we had full control of her finances before she passed at age 95, but after that we had to access them as her heirs.
Be sure your family knows your computer login pw and also the pw to your password manager if it’s not Keychain.

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I can’t thank you all enough for your timely and good responses. As I continue to wade through the financial side of our life, this site and YOU are my go-to for answers. And I will leave his sites and passwords alone, as you suggested.

Some clarification—- my husband used my MacBook Pro exclusively. He is not tech savvy — I badgered him constantly about passwords! But I am still finding multiple passwords and user names for web sites. I created his Apple ID when he inherited my iPhone 6, so I know that password! Thank you again for your prompt and knowledgeable answers. Assuredly, I will be back with more questions!

jane

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Regarding banks and other financial institutions, if you phone them they should be able to tell you what they need to unfreeze the account. For joint accounts, or accounts naming you as the beneficiary, a “certified” copy of the “death certificate” should suffice. You can get it either from the county vital records office or the funeral home. You don’t need to purchase many certified copies because when you visit a bank in person, they typically make a photocopy and let you keep the original.

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Bob, USBank finally worked with me to get the account info I needed —- it is a joint account. They didn’t ask for a Death certificate since “they “ already knew he had passed.

Thanks for pointing out where to get a death certificate, in case others need to know. The funeral home I used ordered them for me.

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State laws come into play with such things.

You can avoid the lockouts in many situations if you set up joint ownership of accounts with rights of survivorship (wording may not be exact). And have each person’s login tied to all the accounts. We did this with my mother in law before she passed and it greatly simplified all kinds of things. And saved us a lot of lawyer money.

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As I said before things like this can vary by state. And also by institution. (They may have national standards that they impose to make sure they are covered legally.)

We paid for around 10 certified death certificates for my mother in law. We’ve used around half of them. One in Germany which we gave to a second cousin on a visit. The cousin is the one who is working on assembling all the documentation needed to deal with the sale of a garden plot to the village. My wife and her sisters each now own 1/6 of it. The cousin doing the leg work owns 1/24. Her comment at the time was “how do I get this translated and certified so the village lawyer will accept it?”

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Condolences. In so many ways.

I went through this with my mother 8 years ago and my mother in law 4 years ago.

Life used to be simpler “back in the day”. No longer.

Much of what I’m going to say needs to happen before someone dies but some of it applies to your situation.

My MIL died in August of 2018. We got to file some back tax forms and such and did that around October 2019. I THINK we just got the final letter back from the IRS about the situation last week. Maybe. (The IRS got WAY behind over the last 2 years.)

We got my wife and at times one or both of her sisters on bank accounts in the 5 years or so before she died. Which made many things much simpler. She died in Texas which meant without any “real” property we didn’t have to deal with probate. But this is a state by state situation so do your homework. But not going through the probate process also made some of the other things we had to deal with a bit harder as my wife, while named in the will as executor, wasn’t really the executor which led to some extra paperwork and time. But not $5K worth which was about what probate would have cost. The biggest hassle was the Social Security Admin. If someone dies, they will ONLY deal with an executor or a court except to be told the death occurred and stop sending money. We were able to work around missing statements. And based on the lockout of her IRS account I suspect SSA tells the IRS when it learns of a death. There IS a form to deal with this, but it turns everything into paperwork and phone calls which for the last 2 years has been a total mess.

We also had control of her logins, phone accounts, etc… so that wasn’t too big of an issue. But I did go into her Facebook account, downloaded it, then cancelled it. (If Facebook learns of a death, they lock the account in the absence of other instructions prior to the death. And a lot of places do similar.) I sent this and other photos and such from her computer to the other 2 sisters.

We have left the several email accounts she had up and active to receive email. I’ll be turning them off soon. But for 2 or 3 years we got various things from banks, insurance companies, etc… which early on were nice to know about. Also, it is easier to get information out of or close accounts if you can receive, and at times, send email from them.

Even if you want to purge a lot of paper, think about keeping the first and last statements of each year going back 10 years.

We sold her house before she died which will a real hassle (she was by then living 1000+ miles away) as various people wanted NOTARIZED permissions for each detail. Spent most of 2013 and 2014 signing and initialing my name.

As to my mother, forget it. She was a paranoid recluse who left behind a mountain of paper that took us about 1000 man hours to sort through. And we got to visit various banks in the area to see if she had an account still open when we found some paperwork from them. (Folks. Don’t do this to your kids.) One bank told us that the equity loan on the house was callable. My brother told them we’d keep up the payments if they would just let it ride till we could sell the house. All agreed to play nice.

Sell the car, if at all possible, before death.

Get a general power of attorney if possible. Ditto medical. Life will be so much simpler.

When someone dies and you have their logins to financial accounts, log into as many as you can download end of year or all statements you can find.

Some future planning.

AFAIK all states have an unclaimed property system. After a death check with it every few months for a few years to see what turns up. Yes, years.

Make a list of what accounts you have where but secure it in password protection setup. You don’t want to give a thief a road map.

Use a password manager to keep your logins safe. But give people you trust the code to break in. And by trust, I mean trust to deal properly and trust to securely hide the information. Kids, lawyer, pastor, whoever.

Think about someone other than yourself who can start some of this when a death happens. You may not be in a state of mind or even have the time to deal with it. And make sure they are levelheaded and methodical and understand tech.

Oh, watch for things like a SSN with a couple of digits reversed. (I have a stock with that issue I must fix. Ugh.)

Think about any automatic payments via credit cards or bank accounts that you might be closing. Getting your water or electricity turned off for non payment is not fun.

Again, condolences.

David

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David, there are so many good tips in your post, especially the preparations before a death. My husband’s death was unexpected, but fortunately, we had a family trust and some of these in place already.

Thanks for mentioning the unclaimed property! I will do a search throughout the year.

Jane

Although I brought up this topic to help me, there is so much great advice here. I think this has been one of the best topic/replies I have read on Tidbits. (Maybe that’s because it is relevant in my life right now.)

if someone has a mind to do this, take all the suggestions and organize them into BEFORE and AFTER a death, etc…

I hope anyone else who has suggestions/comments will continue to contribute to this topic. And again, you all have helped me tremendously. Thank you!!!

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