Email is only 45 years old. Social media is even younger. While managing digital assets is a fairly new part of preplanning, it is a crucial step in the process.
Your digital assets may contain unpaid bills, family photos and other important documents your loved ones will need to access if a death occurs. In addition to the risk of losing personal and financial documents, you may be susceptible to identity theft if someone is not designated to monitor your online accounts.
Read on for tips
Identify Your Digital Assets
It’s important to consider your different types of digital assets, from social media platforms and email to financial profiles.
Examples of digital assets that can contain personal information include:
- Online photo storage
- Personal computer hard drive
Examples of financial digital assets include:
- Online banking
- Online retail
Examples of social media accounts include:
These are just some examples of the types of digital assets you may have. Look through your email and bank account activity to identify any subscriptions you may be paying for, and think about platforms you log into on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Understand Platform Policies
Some platforms offer clear action plans after an individual passes. For example, Facebook offers the option to memorialize, deactivate or delete an account once a loved one has passed.
Check with each platform’s policies and terms of service to ensure your wishes for each account can legally be granted. Some may not allow access to loved without set permission.
Familiarize Yourself with State Laws
While many states turn to platform policies regarding deceased individuals’ accounts, about half have created laws around access to these assets. In fact, 25 states have already implemented their own versions digital inheritance laws, and there may be more to come. However, some states, like Ohio, have not yet passed such laws.
Organize and Protect Your Digital Information
Take inventory of all your digital accounts, and compile your login IDs and passwords into one secure location.
If you complete the above steps, your digital heir will have access to your logins and passwords. However, he or she may not know what to do with this access. If you have specific wishes for your digital assets, leave instructions for handling each.
You may also wish to appoint a digital executor—someone who is trustworthy and understands technology. Since laws vary by state regarding digital assets, consider consulting an estate attorney to determine the best option for your digital inheritance.
Additional Preplanning Considerations
Your digital inheritance is just one part of the preplanning process. While preplanning may seem overwhelming, it protects your loved ones from additional stress and financial burden when you pass.
To learn more, download the Senior’s Guide to Preplanning.