Do you know what will happen to your digital property (i.e. online accounts, social media accounts) when you pass away? It is a good idea to create a plan which will help someone, your digital executor, update your online accounts and sites upon your passing. In most states, a Digital Executor is not a legally binding or enforceable designation. Even so, you can still name a Digital Executor, as this person can be designated to follow the wishes laid out in your digital estate plan and can help your Executor with the financial digital aspects of your estate. Your digital executor should be impartial and mature, able to handle this sensitive information responsibly, and technologically savvy.
The digital assets you will want to keep track of include but are not limited to:
- Blogs and websites you own.
- Bank, brokerage, retirement plan, credit card, loan, and insurance accounts that you access online.
- Your email accounts.
- Your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts.
- Online retail accounts and apps from stores, flash sale sites or marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and iTunes.
- Photo- or video-sharing sites like Flickr or YouTube.
- Music sites like Pandora.
- PayPal or other online payment accounts.
- Utility bills you pay online.
- Any other online accounts such as ones from airline sites with your frequent flier miles and document and data storage accounts like Google Docs
- Computing hardware, such as computers, external hard drives or flash drives, tablets, smartphones, digital music players, e-readers, digital cameras, etc., you’ll want to record where those items are located, as well as any passwords that are required to access those devices.
How you create this digital estate plan is up to you. A password protected spreadsheet can contain details for each and every account you have:
- Name of account (Wells Fargo personal checking, Facebook, Amazon)
- Account Number
- Internet Address/URL
- User Name
- Security questions and answers
- Current Activity (i.e. ez pass is deducted automatically)
- Notes (what do with the asset after you are gone, i.e. archived and saved, deleted, transferred to someone to maintain)
There are a few password keeper apps like LastPass, DashLane and KeePass or the Wallet on your phone that will help with this organization task.
This database will need to be updated on occasion, say 1-2 times a year. Once you do create this database, save your password protected document on a USB drive and physically hand it to your digital estate manager. Or if you’ve used an app provide the password to him/her.
By creating a digital estate plan, you can help your family more easily:
- Locate any accounts you have online
- Access those accounts or the information in those accounts
- Determine if your digital property has any financial value that needs to be reported and perhaps submitted to probate
- Distribute or transfer any digital assets to the appropriate parties
- Avoid online identity theft
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