We’re all living in a digital world. From ranting on social media to ranting in emails to ranting at your bank over the internet, your digital life needs to be part of your will or estate plan–now more than ever before.
Most of you have wills or trusts. If you don’t…why not? Let’s assume you do. Those documents were probably drafted in a time without social media, the cloud, maybe even e-mail.
Digital estate planning includes–
- Stored files or data (on your devices or in the cloud)
- Online accounts like Facebook and LinkedIn
You’ll want to plan for care and possession of these items in your will or estate plan–stating who should get the items and, just as important—who should not.
Your executor and your heirs are likely to run into trouble if you don’t have a digital estate plan, advises a recent Morningstar article, “Do You Have a Plan for Your Digital ‘Estate’?”
For example, social media accounts may also still be up and running. We personally had a family member who passed away with an active Facebook page. De-activating the account took us over a year and hours and hours and hours of legwork.
Steps to update your will or estate plan
- Conduct a digital fire drill. This will jog your memory about which digital assets you deem important.
- Consider the following questions:
- What valuable items would you lose, if your PC, tablet, or other device were lost or stolen?
- If you’re in an accident, would your family be able to access your significant digital information?
- If you died today, to what digital property would you like your loved ones to have access?
- Make an inventory of the digital assets you named during the fire drill. Include user names and passwords. I usually like this inventory to be in written form, but a digital copy is ok–as long as your family can access your computer. Your digital inventory may include these items and more:
- Data-storage devices or media (portable hard drives, thumb drives, etc.)
- Cloud-stored files and folders
- Social media accounts
- Domain names
- Intellectual property in electronic format
- Keep this document safe in a fire-proof safe
- Remember to back up all your data
- Formally designate a digital executor so that someone will make sure that your digital assets are managed according to your wishes.
- You may need to provide this person with a special power or authorization to deal with certain digital assets, like cryptocurrency.
- Be sure that your will includes a list of specific digital assets and what you want the digital executor to do on your behalf.
- Finally, be sure this person is fairly tech savvy.
If you have more questions about digital estate planning, give us a call at 817-638-9016 today! Or, check out our detailed information about wills and trusts.