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Tales from the Crypt 6: Website and Domain Name Lost, Even With Decedent’s Password

Bequest.com is the first automated, end-to-end platform for digital account planning and administration. Having built this product, we know that passing on digital accounts is usually not as simple as leaving behind a password. In today’s tale from the crypt, we will look into a forum post from NamePros, a domain name provider, describing a user’s inability to gain access to his and his late co-founder’s domain name, despite having access to the domain name provider account credentials. From the date of the post, it seems the user had already been working on this problem for 6 months.

In 2008, an individual with an ‘established member’ account with NamePros made a forum post asking for help. He explained how his co-founder with whom he maintained a website had tragically passed away with both their domain name and the website content accounts in his name. It seems as though the website content was a lost cause, as the user was looking to move the domain name to a different provider under his own name, ostensibly to get the website back up on his own. As mentioned in previous videos of ours, depending on why a client owns a domain name, they may need planning not only for the domain name provider account but also for the web host account and the account holding the actual content of the website (GitHub, Wix, WordPress, etc.) Losing access to a website’s content and having to re-do it can be a pretty massive undertaking. It will also cause the loss of user data. The poster still wanted to recover the domain name, however, and managed to gain access to the domain name provider account. Unfortunately this did not suffice.

Upon gaining access to the account (which was still in his late friend’s name), the user tried to transfer the domain name to GoDaddy but this triggered 2FA. GoDaddy required that a code be retrieved from his late friend’s email account, to which nobody had access. It is important to note that any RUFADAA-style legislation would not allow the user to successfully gain access to the contents of the deceased’s email account. The user then asked the forum if there was “any registrar that will allow me to make the transfer without asking for mail confirmation, because this thing is getting very heavy for me to handle.”¹

It’s important to note that the user had tried contacting the original domain name provider for help, but their process required “a fax that must be signed from his parents, copy of his document, a lot of stuff” and that he “did not want to bother the family with this.”² Estate administration should aim to be as smooth as possible – relying on sharing passwords and contacting providers is not a legitimate digital plan, especially in the advent of RUFADAA-style statutes which do a great job of protecting the deceased’s privacy but will not grant access to accounts or data that was not explicitly planned for.

Bequest.com offers the first simple solution for domain name and website succession. Digital accounts are deceptively hard to administer, and robust planning is a must. If you or your clients have businesses or like to trade domain names, you should be setting up an estate plan as they can be significant financial assets.

See you next time!

1. https://www.namepros.com/threads/domain-transfer-after-owners-death.520400

2. https://www.namepros.com/threads/domain-transfer-after-owners-death.520400

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