Ensuring Your Digital Legacy

When we start planning for what will happen to our property after we’re gone, the first things that come to mind are real estate holdings, cash assets, and treasured family heirlooms. Even though we’re deep into the digital age, we don’t normally think about what will happen to our digital estate, which may include:

  • Files stored on your computer
  • Email accounts
  • Social media accounts (includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tumblr)
  • iTunes
  • Online banking logins
  • Shopping sites that you have accounts with, such as Amazon
  • Google Play
  • File storage sites

Chances are that your family and/or heirs won’t automatically know what your wishes are regarding these digital assets, so your estate plan should be expanded to include appropriate instructions.

Putting Together a Digital Succession Plan

At the very least, you should ensure that those who survive you have access to the passwords for your computer, tablet, email accounts, social media accounts, and other sites where you regularly shop or interact with others. Rules that address executor access to online accounts after the account holder passes away vary from one provider to the next, so it is better to put together a list than risk future inaccessibility. This list, which you will need to update as your login credentials change, should be kept in a safety deposit box or other secure place, the location of which may be noted in your will.

You also want to specify how you want your social media accounts to be dealt with after you pass. Some people prefer to have these profiles shut down completely, while others choose to have them left in place as a memorial. Facebook, for example, allows accounts to be ‘memorialized’ so people can post their memories of you and condolences to your survivors.

Finally, remember to address digital media assets, such as pictures, music, and videos. For many of us, these items are as cherished as the traditional family heirloom, and you may want certain ones to go to specific beneficiaries. If so, ensure that your will is updated to include these details.

In 2017, we can’t overlook the reality that technology has transformed the way that we live. Because so many of us have virtual lives in addition to ‘real’ ones, it makes sense that digital assets and information should be dealt with in an estate plan just like the family home, cash assets, and other important property we leave behind.

For assistance in updating your estate plan to include your digital holdings, contact the  estate planning team at Estate Connection today. We will help you compile of list of assets and your wishes regarding each, and ensure that your will and other key directives are updated accordingly.

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Written by Stacy Maurier