You may be familiar with estate planning or the process of planning what will happen with your finances, real estate, retirement plans, and other assets after you pass away.
However, did you know that modern end-of-life planning extends to digital estate planning? This includes your email and social media accounts, subscriptions, electronic files, and virtually all your online activity. Read on to learn how to protect your digital assets after you are gone.
Make an Inventory of All Devices, Assets, Accounts, and Passwords
Step one in safeguarding your digital legacy is creating a comprehensive inventory. List all accounts, passwords or passcodes, and electronic devices (laptops, smartphones, e-readers, etc.) in one document. For accounts that use two-factor authentication, be sure to include the associated email or phone number.
Next, take stock of all your digital assets and add them to the list, along with instructions on accessing them. These may include:
- Software applications
- Photos, videos, music, and audio files
- Data stored on your devices or in the cloud
- Email and social media accounts
- Websites, blogs, and hosting accounts
- Accounts in forums, review sites, and online communities
- E-commerce seller accounts, such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy
- Smartphone-related accounts
- Loyalty and reward programs
- Online subscriptions and streaming services
- Health services, such as electronic health records and health insurance
- Home services, such as mortgages, utility services accounts, and homeowners’ insurance
- Financial services, such as online bank accounts, retirement accounts, PayPal, Venmo, digital wallets, cryptocurrencies, and more
Provide Clear Instructions on What You Want To Happen With Your Digital Assets
Next, you should write down your explicit wishes for what will happen to your digital assets, both in your will and in a separate legal document.
Your will should contain instructions for transferable assets with monetary value, such as bank accounts, digital wallets, PayPal balances, retirement accounts, or copyrighted works. Anything else goes in the separate document. An experienced estate planning attorney can advise which digital assets you can and cannot include in your will.
When it comes to non-transferable assets or assets with no monetary value, you have a lot of flexibility in deciding what happens with them. For instance, you can request your surviving spouse to terminate your Facebook account or turn it into a memorial page.
Many online services, such as Google and select social media channels, allow you to choose what happens with your account after you die or if your account has been inactive for some time. Be sure to check the terms and conditions and change the settings as necessary.
Need Help With Digital Estate Planning in Massachusetts? Contact Our Team.
End-of-life planning can be complicated and emotionally challenging, but it needn’t be. At Jordan & White, LLC, we have been helping Danvers, MA, residents regain control over their assets and plan for their golden years for over a decade.