Digital assets are central to our everyday lives. From social media accounts to iTunes music collections, our electronic life is an extension of who we are.
When carrying out end-of-life plans for a loved one, it’s important to know and understand the necessary arrangements for digital assets. Without proper planning and organization, it may be challenging to access accounts and can result in difficult legal situations.
There’s a lot to know about digital life after death and it’s never to soon to start learning. Below is a step-by-step guide to managing digital accounts before or after a death occurs.
Why You Need to Plan Ahead
Having an end-of-life plan and named trustee can help protect digital assets against theft, fraud and other cyber crimes. It can also help family members and friends take proper care of personal photographs, music downloads or other electronic files.
It is important to leave all necessary login information, passwords, and pins to digital accounts and files in a secure location. Digital spreadsheets, word documents or password manger applications are commonly used to protect and store such information.
Naming an executor and providing him or her with the necessary information ahead of time will simplify the process of accessing, transferring or closing down accounts.
Estate planning documents should also include instructions for named executors to follow. Instructions could include:
- Deleting private emails.
- Closing online bank accounts.
- Shutting down social media accounts.
- Setting up a memorial page on a site like BeRemembered.com
- Publishing a goodbye post on a personal blog.
Whether you’re planning ahead or a death has occurred, having a digital assets plan will make it easier to start closing accounts or archiving files.
How to Identify Digital Assets
The first step to take when managing a loved one’s digital life after death is to identify all their digital assets and any relevant information associated with them such as usernames, passwords or pins.
A digital asset is anything that can be created, transmitted, accessed or stored on an electric or digital medium. Some of the most common digital assets include:
- Credit card accounts.
- Social media accounts.
- Files saved in the cloud.
- Email accounts.
Different assets may have different estate planning policies. For example, Facebook allows users to designate a legacy contact to make limited actions and manage accounts after death. It is important to review the terms of service for social media, bank, phone, email and cloud accounts to determine if such policies are in place.
To begin the process of locating a loved one’s digital accounts, start by looking in estate planning documents, on a personal computer or in billing information. With an appropriate plan in place, it should be easy to locate account information.
How to Prepare for Digital Life After Death
So much of life today takes place in a digital space. As a result, it is a necessary step in leaving well to plan for digital life after death.
From keeping a digital assets inventory to naming a digital executor, the necessary steps must be taken for a smooth transition.
If a death has occurred or you’re interested in funeral preplanning, Busch Funeral and Crematory Services can help answer your questions. Our compassionate staff offers the highest level of services and we’re available at any time day or night. Contact us with questions today, or to learn more download our free Seniors Guide to Funeral Arrangements: How Preplanning Can Save Time, Money and Worry.
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