When most people think of estate planning, they think of preparing for the distribution of their physical assets after death. However, the rise of digital technology has created a new frontier in end-of-life preparations: digital estate planning.
Digital estate planning is the process of organizing and distributing a person’s digital assets, such as online accounts and files, in the event of their death or incapacitation. This includes everything from email and social media accounts to digital photos and online banking information.
Why is digital estate planning important?
In today’s digital age, many people have a significant amount of their lives stored online. If these accounts are left unattended after death or incapacity, they can become vulnerable to identity theft or unauthorized access. Additionally, loved ones may be unable to access important information, such as billing statements or passwords for online accounts.
Preparing a digital estate plan can prevent these issues and ensure that a person’s digital assets are distributed according to their wishes.
How can someone prepare a digital estate plan?
There are several steps to preparing a thorough digital estate plan. These include:
1. Taking inventory of digital assets: This involves identifying all online accounts and files that may be subject to distribution. This can include social media accounts, email accounts, digital photos, cloud storage accounts, online banking information, and more.
2. Appointing a digital executor: This is the person who will be responsible for managing and distributing digital assets after death or incapacity. The digital executor should be someone who is trustworthy and has a clear understanding of the person’s wishes.
3. Providing access to accounts: It’s important to document login information, passwords, and other relevant details for each online account. This information should be kept in a secure location and shared only with the digital executor.
4. Outlining distribution preferences: This involves deciding how digital assets should be distributed after death or incapacity. For example, a person may choose to delete or deactivate certain accounts, transfer ownership of other accounts, or distribute digital files among family members or friends.
5. Regularly updating the plan: Digital estate plans should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in online accounts or personal circumstances.
Overall, digital estate planning is a new and important aspect of end-of-life preparations. By preparing a thorough plan, individuals can ensure that their digital assets are protected and distributed according to their wishes.