Your Online Life does not leave a paper trail. So make arrangements so that your beneficiaries can handle them after your demise.
You might not have a long list of followers on Twitter or Instagram. You might own cryptocurrencies. But if you do almost anything online, you probably own a couple of Digital Assets. Failing to make arrangements for these Digital Properties when alive can cause unnecessary trouble and costs to your next-of-kin.
We all know the benefits of creating an Estate Plan for our tangible assets. Similarly, in the modern world, creating an Estate Plan exclusively for your Digital Assets – also known as Digital Estate Plan – has become a necessity.
Every year, many unaccounted online accounts of the deceased are targeted by hackers and frauds. With no means to secure their deceased loved one’s hacked accounts, the family members are left in a lurch.
Without making arrangements for your Digital Assets, your collection of photos and videos on the cloud can become inaccessible after your demise. Similarly, how would your family members know how to stop subscribing to your online magazines or music apps when they have no access to your accounts?
So, what should you do to make sure your Digital Life is secure and handled properly after your death? Simple: create a Digital Estate Plan.
Let’s have a look at some of the common Digital Estate Planning terminologies and then move on to how you can go about creating a Digital Estate Plan to secure your Digital Assets.
What is Digital Estate Planning?
Digital Estate Planning is the process of organizing your Digital Assets and making arrangements as to who should handle them after you’re gone.
What are Digital Assets?
A Digital Asset is any information created or owned by you in a digital format, either in an electronic storage device or online.
Your Digital Assets include:
- Social media profiles
- Online banking and third-party payment services
- Online subscription services and online shopping
- Cloud storage and online documents
Your Online Life doesn’t leave a paper trail
When it comes to Traditional Estate Planning, the executor of the Estate would probably figure out what their deceased kin owned by rummaging through their bills and other paperwork. How would an Executor of a Estate learn of their deceased kin’s Digital Assets if there are no trails to follow?
It is quite obvious our Digital Life has no paper trail. We create Online accounts and delete them when we no longer want to use them – all with a click of a mouse button. So how would our beneficiaries know how many Online Accounts we own and what they should do with it after we are gone?
Your Estate’s Executors cannot demand access to your Digital Assets unless you specifically give them authority to do so in your Will.
Companies like Facebook and Google allow you to appoint a Legacy or Trusted Contact to manage your Online Accounts in case you are incapacitated or die. All you have to do is turn on the memorialization feature in Facebook and Instagram by appointing a Legacy Contact. Similarly, for Google, you can set up to 10 people as your Trusted Contact. They would receive an email from Google if your account is inactive for a long time.
You can instruct your Legacy Contacts what they must do with your social media profiles and other online accounts after you’re gone. You can instruct them to download all the data and close your accounts or memorialize them.
Giving your Estate Executor a list of your usernames and passwords might seem like an easy thing to do but you should remember the downsides of sharing passwords with people. The chances of misplacing the list is high. Not to mention, the list might fall into the wrong hands.
So, what can you do? Create a Digital Estate Plan for your Digital Assets and keep your Digital Property secure forever.