Protecting a Digital Legacy
The Importance of Protecting Your Digital Legacy
“The world exists just as much online, as it does offline. Failing to recognize that when planning for the end of life, can lead to unexpected repercussions for survivors.”
The Impact of the Digital World on Estate Planning
There’s never an easy time to talk about end-of-life planning, and a pandemic that has everyone thinking about death can make it harder, says the article “Wannabe Wired: Preparing your digital legacy,” from The Lawton Constitution. Most of us think about creating a will, making burial plans and ensuring that our loved ones are cared for when we are gone. However, planning for our digital legacy is often neglected.
Recognizing and Identifying Digital Assets
The Value of Your Online Presence
You don’t have to be Bill Gates or own billions in bitcoins to have a digital legacy. In fact, most people don’t even recognize their digital assets as a new type of property. If you have bank accounts, social media, own any websites or have original music, artwork, or videos online, you have digital assets.
Navigating Online Platform Policies for Deceased Users
Prior planning can help your loved ones deal with your digital assets, as well as your traditional property.
Legacy Contacts and Account Deactivation Options
Different online platforms have different policies about what happens to accounts owned by people who have passed. Sometimes there is an option to delete or deactivate a profile, if the owners have checked the right box. However, that’s not always the case. Many digital giants won’t allow someone who is not the owner, to gain access to their accounts or the data.
Creating a List of Usernames and Passwords
Planning for Inactivity and Account Deletion
Start by making a list of user names and passwords. If you can, go through all of your accounts one by one to see if they allow users to make a plan for what happens if the owner dies. Some, like Facebook, allow the account owner to name a Legacy Contact. That person is permitted to manage tribute posts on your profile, deciding who can and who cannot post on your account and request the removal of your account. Just go to General Account Settings and click on the “Memorialization Setting.” You also have the option to have your account deleted after you die.
Discussing Your Digital Legacy Wishes with Loved Ones
Not every platform makes this process so easy. Some will delete accounts, if there is no activity after a certain number of months or years. If you have a business that relies on a free email service like Yahoo!, this could cause your family to lose access to valuable information.
Safeguarding Sensitive Information in Your Estate Plan
Once you’ve made a thorough list of all of your online accounts and passwords, talk with a trusted family member about your wishes for your digital accounts. Do not include the document with online accounts and passwords in your will! Remember that your will is likely to be a probated document, meaning that it will be entered into the public record. You don’t want people accessing your online accounts—it’s an invitation to identity theft.
Integrating Digital and Traditional Legacy Planning
Ensuring a Comprehensive Estate Plan for Peace of Mind
Speak with your estate planning attorney about planning for your digital and traditional legacy. It will spare your loved ones a lot of trouble and provide you with peace of mind.
Estate Planning Legacy Planner
Everyday, we work with people who have lost someone they care about. There is so much these folks have to organize and manage. This planner organizes the information they will most need, in our experience, saving so much time and unnecessary cost. Besides organizing your information, it's so important to have a good estate plan that will keep your family out of court and conflict.
Please use the button below to receive a free copy of our Estate Planning Legacy Planner, an organization tool essential to any estate plan designed to help your loved ones take care of you and handle your affairs.
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