People often choose to prepare for their death at some point throughout their life. This can be done with an estate plan. This can consist of a will, trusts, properties, life insurance policies, a power of attorney, financial accounts, and more. In the past, people created their plan by collecting paper documentation of their assets to keep in a safe place for the future. Over time, this changed along with the digital era. With the increase in technology, people can now create a digital estate plan.
Today, many people manage their personal lives, business lives, and finances online. In creating a digital estate, it is important for these digital assets to be secured in the event of the person’s death. This allows their loved ones to know what should be done with them when the individual is no longer around to manage them. Here are five tips for creating a digital estate plan:
Create a List of Digital Assets
The first thing that should be done in creating a digital estate plan is taking inventory of all digital assets. Business owners should create a separate list for all of their business assets. These lists can include:
- Computing hardware such as computers, hard drives, flash drives, tablets, smartphones, cameras, etc.
- Any information stored electronically
- Online accounts such as email, social media, photo sharing, shopping, storage, websites, blogs, etc.
- Domain names
- Intellectual properties
It is crucial to also leave instructions on how to access these assets. This can include login information, passwords, and answers to security questions.
Outline Your Wishes
Part of creating a digital estate plan is leaving instructions on how you wish for these assets to be handled. For example, you may want to save, delete, or transfer some assets. Business owners may want to hand down the business to another individual or have it shut down.
Designate a Digital Executor
It is important to name a person to carry out these final wishes for your digital estate. This person should be trusted to act in your best interest to handle these assets after your death.
Store the Information Safely
Once this information is put together, you must make sure the plan is in a secure location so that it can be protected. This can be with an attorney, an online storage service, or in a safe. When this is done, it is crucial for your executor to know where it is stored and how to access it.
Formalize the Plan
Part of creating any estate plan is legalizing it. This can be done by naming the executor and the location of the digital estate plan within a legal will. It is important to not include any sensitive information about the plan in your will, as it becomes a public document after your death.
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