‘Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Holiday season is here and it is time for joyous family gatherings, great food and holiday merriment.
Speaking about Estate Planning during the holiday season might seem like a taboo topic. But you must remember that it is critically important to make arrangements for your Estate and what can be a better time to plan for it than a holiday season?
If you have made arrangements for your physical assets, have you also included your wishes for what must happen to your Digital Assets when you are gone?
In the modern world, planning for your Digital Assets is as important as making arrangements to pass on your physical assets. Most of our photos, videos, and important documents are now stored in digital format. If you do not let your loved ones know of these documents’ whereabouts online, they will not be able to retrieve them when you are no longer around or incapable of retrieving them on your own.
5 reasons why Holiday Season is the best time to tackle your Digital Estate Plan
1. I will be home for Christmas
With children scattered across the country and grandkids away at school, holiday get-togethers are one of the exceptions when all your loved ones are under one roof. Take advantage of this festive season and get-togethers and have the much-needed conversation about your Digital Estate Plan with your loved ones.
You can discuss how to make arrangements for your Digital Assets, who will handle your social media accounts and what must be done with all your online documents once you are gone. In short, make your wishes known so that your family members can handle your Digital Assets the way you want them to.
Remember this: after discussing with your family members, start creating a Digital Estate Plan so that your wishes are recorded in writing.
2. A Prosperous New Year
It is a common misconception that Estate Planning is only for the rich and wealthy. Similarly, you might think “Why do I need a Digital Estate Plan when I am hardly active on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media sites.”
You will probably have an email, an online shopping account and use the cloud to store a couple of important documents like professional certificate courses or bills. You might be an active user of online banking and other third-party payment sites.
You might have tried your hand at investing in cryptocurrency and profited a bit. How about all the photos you have stored online? Don’t you want your loved ones to access these when you’re gone?
Photos, memories and professional course certificates might not have any monetary value but they certainly hold emotional values to your loved ones. Unlike physical assets which may have a paper trail, Digital Assets do not have a paper trail and unless you make arrangements to handle them, your family members will not be able to.
3. Be wary of leaving your Digital Assets unattended
Have you wondered what happens to online accounts when you’re gone? Who will close your online banking accounts and third-party payment sites? Who will stop your subscriptions to online magazines and newspapers? Who will close your Amazon, Netflix or Spotify account?
Unless you find a way for your family members to access your online accounts and either memorialize, close or delete them, they will remain unattended on the internet forever. The downside of this is, your online accounts and personal information becomes a target for identity thefts and hacks.
4. No, not the Pudding!
You might have a traditional Christmas Pudding family recipe that was passed down to you by your mother. You might want to share this special recipe with your future generation. You can do so by recording a video of you reading out the recipe.
There’s a lot more than just Christmas Pudding when it comes to Digital Legacy. The photos you uploaded on social media or photo-sharing sites, the memories of your childhood you wrote in your personal blog and videos you recorded for your grandchildren to see – all these are a part of your Digital Legacy – the things you might want to be remembered for. So, unless you make arrangements as to which of these Digital Assets should be passed on to which of your family members, they will remain lost forever.
5. Make a list and check it twice
If you already have a Digital Estate Plan in place or made arrangements for your Digital Assets in your Estate Plan, you might want to review it.
Some of the social media platforms have introduced Legacy Policies making it easier for their users to pass on their legacy. If you have used Facebook’s Legacy Policy and chosen the memorialize option, you might want to make a note of this in your Digital Estate Plan.
Other life events that call for a review include change of intended beneficiaries, change in marital status (if you had previously made your spouse your Digital Executor), death of a beneficiary and addition or deletion of Online Accounts.