In the past, estate planning was almost entirely concerned with financial and custodial matters.
Nowadays the proliferation of digital devices and services creates a real headache without careful planning.
How many digital accounts do you have? 50? 100? Now think about who other than yourself has the username and password to access them.
Keep reading to find out why you need to include digital estate planning in your overall estate plan.
Banking and Financial Applications
The most important consideration for planning your digital will is your financial accounts. Most people include account numbers but forget to add the access credentials.
If you have investments, multiple checking and savings accounts, or other financial services it can be difficult to access them physically. By listing all your usernames and passwords in your will you ensure your heirs can quickly access your assets.
Make sure to also include insurance information such as health, life insurance, and other important accounts. Possibly the most important thing to provide is the access code for your phone. Modern encryption makes it almost impossible to unlock a phone without the passcode.
Social Media Digital Estate Planning
More than 80% of the U.S. population has at least one social media account. For most American’s it is several. The information kept on social media is incredibly public and paradoxically, also extremely private! Being able to memorialize or delete social media is an important part of the estate process.
Go through all the accounts you use and make certain they can be accessed after your death. Your loved ones could find it painful to see your account still up after you are gone. Especially if they attempted to have it taken down and failed because of a lack of credentials.
Thankfully, many social media companies do have an avenue available after a loved one’s death. With a death certificate and other identifying information, many accounts can be closed.
Facebook has a form you can fill out to delete your loved one’s account. This form doesn’t give you access to their account. If there were any pictures or other information stored in the account they will be lost.
Cloud Storage and Email Accounts
Do you have access to your spouse’s email? Your parents? In most cases, the answer will be no. Email accounts are the foundation of our digital lives.
If you do not take steps to make that information available upon your passing, it will be very difficult to deal with others. With access to email, you can find all the other accounts that were created from the address. This lets you go through and close them all systematically.
Cloud storage is often much more personal. Many people store their entire photo libraries on a service like Google Photos or Dropbox. If you do not have the access credentials for them, you could lose years or decades of family photos.
Estate Planning is Essential
No one likes to think about what will happen when they are gone. It is very important to take steps now to make it easier on the ones you love. Digital estate planning can save them significant headaches after you are gone.
Have you been putting off writing a will? Contact us here to see how we can help you prepare your estate.