Posted by Search Control on May 27, 2020
Estate planning can be a complex process that requires a lot of thought and will likely need to be changed several times along the way. With the use of digital technology, the way this can be done has changed dramatically and continues to change. The following four steps will help you add digital assets to your state with less confusion.
Build an Inventory List
The first step in the process is to create an inventory list that includes the location of all of your digital assets, as well as the usernames and passwords to access them. This list must be stored in a secure location to avoid exposing this private information, resulting in identity theft or other issues. You will need to provide your fudiciary with information regarding where to find this valuable information. Be sure to back up any cloud-based digital assets to your computer, flash drive or other storage device.
Include Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan
You will need to add details of who you would like to inherit each of your digital assets in the event of your passing. If there are specific instructions regarding how those assets should be used, be sure to include those as well. If there are digital assets you don’t wish to pass on to relatives or friends, include details for how they should be closed or deleted. Never include passwords in the planning documents because these are likely to be read at a public will reading. Others may also be able to read these documents.
Just like all of your other assets, you need to protect your digital assets by restricting who will be able to access them. First and foremost, you must detail how much access you want your fiduciary to have, such as whehter they can access your emails, social media accounts or photos before they are passed on or deleted. Even after you are gone, you have your right to privacy and only need to share the digital assets you wish to share with family and friends. Anything else can be deleted and removed.
Review Access Authorization for Each Provider
Every online company that offers email and other services will have their own policies for authorizing access to other individuals. For instance, service providers like Instagram, Google and Facebook allows you to grant access to specific individuals to access your account after you’re gone. Be sure to review closely the policy of each provider you use so you can take the appropriate steps to grant access to the right individuals. It’s also important to ensure the person you name with each service provider exactly matches the one you list in your estate plan. This is because the provider will follow the information provided directly to them, rather than what’s listed in your plan.
Digital assets are one of the most difficult aspects of estate planning. Few people think about what happens to their emails, photos and social media accounts after they pass away. These should be included in some form in your estate planning, but this can be difficult for many people to understand. These steps, as well as working with an experienced estate planning attorney, can ensure these assets are properly managed after you’re gone.