Your Digital Estate: Four Tips to Getting a Head Start
Deciding what to do with your digital assets is becoming an increasingly important part of estate planning.
This article will help you ensure your digital executor has everything they need to take appropriate action for management of your digital presence after you are gone.
Knowledge of your preferences
Your Will most likely lays out the distribution of your physical, financial and other types of assets, but what do you want to happen to your digital presence such as social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram profiles? Think about leaving a letter of direction: a‘to-do’ list which may inform your digital executor of what you would like to happen to those accounts. You should include information such as:
- Should your executor send photos from your social media accounts to family members?
- Do you want your executor to shut down the online profile?
- Do you want any personal videos uploaded to YouTube for friends and family to be taken off?
As you make this to-do list, be sure to evaluate the terms of service on your social media accounts. For example, Facebook has a memorialisation option for profiles, so your friends and family can still see legacy posts and photos and can still have limited interaction with you online.
Twitter, on the other hand, only has the option of deactivating your account. To be able to do this, the executor would need to send Twitter copies of your death certificate and government-issued ID (such as your passport), along with a signed and notarised statement of death.
A detailed report of your profiles, passwords and online accounts
To produce a digital estate plan, you will need to let your friends or loved ones know how to access your online accounts after your death. What information do you friends and loved ones need? At the very minimum, a list of the websites for which you have profiles on, accounts names, usernames and passwords.
Regardless of how you choose to store this information, creating a report of digital assets will make it more straightforward for people to access your internet accounts following your death. Your digital report should include the following information (where applicable):
- Bank, credit card, retirement plan, credit, insurance, loan and other accounts you access and/or pay online.
- Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, and other blogs and websites you own.
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts.
- Frequent flier accounts.
- Photo or video-sharing sites like Flickr or YouTube.
- E-mail accounts.
- Online retail accounts.
- Apps from stores or marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and iTunes.
- Music sites like Spotify or Pandora.
- PayPal or other online payment accounts.
- Utility bills you pay online.
Update this report regularly or, ideally, whenever you add a new account or change account information.
Access to your reports
Your executor, or the people you choose to act on your behalf, will need the master password to your password management report or program. As this is sensitive and is not something you want to share with other individuals aside from perhaps a close family member, you do not want to leave it visibly obvious or in an email. There are secure online services where you can store this information.
The ability and authority to act on your behalf
It is very beneficial to identify your digital executor in your will. Logging in to someone else’s online account has still not been legally approved. UK legal representatives and academics are currently looking into how they can change this to make is more applicable for digital legacy planning. It is helpful to give your designee the most formal direction and authority possible — inclusion in your will, along with explicit consent to log in using your passwords and to act on your behalf.
With appropriate planning, you are able to have peace of mind knowing your online presence will be treated in the way you desire after you pass away.
SecureTheFile can help with this process. Visit our digital vault overview to learn more about our services.