Think about your online accounts; Twitter, Email, PayPal, Instagram, etc. What’s going to happen to them when you pass away? Do you want them to go stagnant or would you rather have them managed? We feel it is a great idea to have a digital estate plan in place so someone can access your online accounts when you pass away.
McAfee conducted a survey in 2013 to gain insight on how much Americans think their digital assets are worth. The results showed that Americans value their digital assets in excess of $35,000. This amount includes items such as personal memories, career information, blogs, hobbies, and more. Personally, I wouldn’t know how to value my personal and professional digital assets other than priceless. Among other accounts, my Facebook account, blog and Evernote account have masses of information that are held near and dear to me.
The law industry has been slow to catch up with technology. With that being said, the process for managing a deceased person’s digital assets has lots of room for improvement. Be proactive now and take a few steps to create a digital estate plan to ensure your digital assets are taken care of.
3 Simple Steps for your Digital Estate Plan
1. Make a list
If you’re like most of us out there, you probably have a multitude of accounts. More than you can probably remember off the top of your head. However, work from memory as much as you can and start listing account websites and logins. Continue to build this list as your digital footprint increases. As an fyi, LinkedIn and Twitter will close your account when you die and Facebook and Google have their own process to attend to deceased account holders, Facebook Legacy Contact and Google Inactive Account Manager.
2. Create a database
PasswordBox, SecureSafe and Estate Map are popular online platforms. All you need is one master password to log into your account and you’ll gain access to logins for everything. You can also share this master account with another user so they have access as well. I’ve been using PasswordBox because it’s free, easy to use, and can be accessed on various devices. I can create a very unique password, rfd@343&72h for example, without the need to remember it. Whatever you do, have a unique password for each account. Don’t be these people.
3. Appoint an executor
This is the person executing your digital estate plan. You’ll want to state this person/persons in your will, trust, etc. At some point, your will becomes public record so don’t put your usernames/passwords in your will.
Again, estate planning laws are lagging the digital landscape. The best you can do in the meantime is be proactive about this part of your overall financial plan. This is easy to implement and the earlier your start, the easier it will be on your loved ones to track down your digital assets.
A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the options presented. Content should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situations.