Planning for your death may be an uncomfortable task while you’re still alive. However, making arrangements for your passing and commemoration may ease the emotional and financial burden of your loved ones.
When you think of planning for your death, it usually involves arranging for a funeral service, choosing a burial location and turning over your property in, say, London to a loved one. But, have you considered creating a digital estate plan?
Why Should You Create a Digital Estate Plan?
A digital estate plan involves sorting out your digital assets and property and making arrangements for what should happen to them after your death. Digital properties include but are not limited to:
- Digitised business, financial, and personal documents
- Digital devices like computers, external flash drives, smartphones, tablets
- Information stored in the cloud or on a device
- Online accounts like emails, social media accounts, blogs, websites, and shopping accounts
- Online bank accounts
- Online management of home utilities
- Domain names
- Intellectual property like copyrighted materials and trademarks
Having a digital estate plan helps your loved ones:
- Locate your online accounts
- Provide access to information in these accounts
- Distribute or transfer any digital assets
- Prevent online identity theft
Creating a Digital Estate Plan
Here are five easy steps to create a plan for your digital assets before you pass away:
1. Gather all information on your digital assets
Create a list of all your digital assets, as well as their logins and passwords. If you’re using a password management program, share your access information to your digital executor. If not, record the login information for the key accounts.
For digital devices, record their location, as well as the login information required to access them.
2. Find a digital executor
Like a conventional executor, a digital executor settles your digital estate once you pass away. Take note that they are not necessarily the same as your traditional executor, so these two individuals must be different. It would be best if your digital executor is a tech-savvy person who can navigate the internet, your home and office computers, and mobile devices easily.
3. Decide what you want to do with the assets
List down how you would like your digital executor to handle each asset. You might want to delete some accounts, archive other assets or transfer the ownership to family and friends. Digital assets with monetary value may need to be redeemed, or their ownership changed, so that these will continue to make money even when you’re gone.
4. Store your plan in a secure location
You have three options for storing your digital estate plan:
- With an attorney
- In online storage, like the cloud
- In a locked safe or file cabinet
Make sure to tell your executor, your spouse or your children where you’ve stored your plan and how they can access it. Doing so will make it easier for them to access the plan when you’re gone.
5. Make your digital estate plan legal
Formalise your digital estate plan by naming your digital executor in your will. Specify the location of your asset inventory, as well as the access credentials.
Don’t include your login information in your will. Once a grant of probate is issued, your will becomes a public document, which means everyone with a copy can read it.
In this digital era, assets are no longer limited to tangible items. Assets and properties that you keep in a digital environment also need to be passed on legally to your surviving family members or friends.
Documenting your wishes for these digital properties can be as difficult as conventional estate planning, but it helps ease the heartache of your loved ones. By knowing what you want to do with your digital assets, you can guide your family and friends in managing your affairs in the manner you intended.