The process of Digital Estate Planning might still be in the developmental stages but taking necessary steps will surely help your loved ones to protect and manage your Digital Afterlife.
Let’s face it, Estate Planning is not an easy task. The first thought that comes to our mind when we think of Estate Planning is: Does this mean I am nearing my end? Not necessarily but the human mind is wired to not think about ‘what happens if we were to pass away tomorrow’ or ‘what if I fall ill?’
If you are a senior citizen, you might already have an Estate Plan in place. But what about your Digital Estates? Do you have a plan for protecting your Digital Properties?
An Estate Plan for your Digital Assets is called a Digital Estate Plan. All your online accounts and the devices you use to access your online accounts are collectively called Digital Assets or Digital Properties. Like how Estate Planning helps your loved ones in protecting and managing your tangible assets, a Digital Estate Plan helps your loved ones in protecting your Digital Assets.
Digital Estate Planning is fairly new but people are becoming aware of it. The steps to create a Digital Estate Plan for your Digital Assets are pretty straight-forward and of the do-it-yourself kind.
Let us have a look at how you can create a Digital Estate Plan for your Digital Assets.
Digital Estate Plan for your Digital Assets
Step 1: Make an Inventory of your Digital Assets
Make a list of all the online accounts you have owned so far. This includes social media sites, cloud storage, cryptocurrency, emails, files and documents, and online banking.
Next, make a list of all the devices you have used to access the above mentioned accounts. If you have invested in cryptocurrency, you will have to list the device used to purchase your crypto. Cryptocurrencies work on the principle of Public and Private keys. Private keys are user specific, hence the need to include the device used to purchase the cryptocurrency in your Digital Estate Plan.
Step 2: Give Access to your Digital Assets
You might be thinking – isn’t this simple? Just make a list of passwords and include it in the Will?
It is not legal to include passwords and other sensitive information in your Will. Wills go public after the death of an individual – you do not want your passwords to be visible to all your beneficiaries and third-parties, do you?
Make use of a Password Manager to store usernames and passwords of your online accounts. A Password Manager needs one Master Password to allow access to your account. Find a way to pass on the Master Password to your beneficiary.
Step 3: Appoint a Digital Executor
You know the benefits of assigning an executor for your Estate. Similarly, you can assign a Digital Executor for your Digital Estates. A Digital Executor is an individual who will handle your Digital Assets after you’re gone.
Some Digital Assets require specific legal permissions to access. Make sure to have a look at each organization’s Legacy Policies. If you are not sure about certain online accounts (online banking and such), talk to your trusted attorney and discuss ways in which you can transfer these accounts to your beneficiaries legally.
Some organizations such as Facebook, Instagram, Google and LinkedIn let you appoint a Legacy Contact to handle your accounts after you’re gone. Have a look at these policies and make use of them. Once you appoint a Legacy Contact for these accounts, include the details (name of the Legacy Contact) in your Digital Estate Plan.
Step 4: Make your Digital Estate Plan legal
You would know by now, for any documents to be passed on as a part of an Estate, it needs to be authorized by an attorney.
Similarly, your Digital Estate Plan is legally valid only when it is authorized by an attorney. Talk to your trusted attorney about your Digital Estate Plan.