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Planning For Death These Days Means More Than Just Writing A Will

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Most families prepare for the unthinkable with a will, but protecting your digital life is also just as important.

One family suffered devastating consequences because a loved one didn't have the right protection.

It's still hard for Karen Prangley to look at old photos of her dad.

"We didn't know at one point if we were going to lose my Dad," she said.

Greg Prangley suffered two devastating strokes in 2009.

After a week in a coma, the 62-year-old woke up but his memory was shot.

"My brother and I tried to communicate with him via paper, pen, anyway to get into his email account where he ran his business from," Karen said.

Greg couldn't remember his Yahoo password.  His entire business was tied to his account.

Within a month the company collapsed.  Greg died in 2014.

"You're dealing with your Dad might not be there the next day, but are you doing the right thing on behalf of him for his company?" Karen said.

Dan Ackerman is a senior editor for CNET.  He says you can do more than share your passwords.

"I would go to Google, Facebook and Twitter they all have a page where you can set up legacy requests," said Ackerman.

Protecting your digital afterlife is a relatively new concept.

Part of that plan also includes adding your digital life to your will.

"As part of estate planning you should set up a data executor in your will that has permission to access your account," said Ackerman. Either give them the password ahead of time or make them an authorized user of your accounts."

That is something Karen's father never did.  The family contacted Yahoo for help.  But the company's policy states:  neither the Yahoo account nor any of the content is transferable, even when the account owner is deceased.

"We really learned it the hard way being a small business owner he had everything in that account," she said. "Everything was lost and still to this day we can't get into that yahoo account."

The other thing to look into is state and local laws pertaining to digital assets in an estate.

The reason being, the law doesn't move nearly as fast as technology so what may be true today may not hold up years down the line.

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