Planning for death is something that many people want to avoid. While thinking about your own demise can seem morbid, it's essential that you take the time to put your affairs in order so that your friends and family members aren't left shouldering the burden of trying to manage your estate after your passing.
Most people are familiar with the fact that they need to establish a plan for their physical assets, but few consider how their digital lives will be affected by their death. In addition to a will, trust, and health care directive, you should create a digital estate plan. Here are three tips you can use to ensure your loved ones are able to access your digital data in the future.
1. Make a list of your online accounts.
Even if some of your online accounts are tied to brick-and-mortar businesses (like bank or retirement accounts), access to these accounts can be beneficial when your loved ones are trying to settle your estate after your passing.
With more and more people opting to go paperless when it comes to receiving statements from financial institutions and other important establishments, there may be no paper trail to help your loved ones locate important accounts. Be sure that you create a list of all your online accounts (complete with passwords) so that your loved ones will be able to access the information they need to settle your estate with ease.
2. Determine if your digital property has financial value.
With technology playing an increasingly more prominent role in the lives of the public, you may be holding on to digital property that could have financial value. If you own domain names or have a blog that generates some ad revenue, it's important that these digital properties be included in your estate plan.
Work with your attorney to determine which of your digital properties needs to be included in your will or trust, and make sure that you have made arrangements to pass these valuable digital properties on to the right heir after your passing.
3. Let your loved ones know about social media accounts.
Social media sites provide a platform through which you can easily connect with friends and family members, but it's important that you let your loved ones know about all of your social media accounts so that these profiles can be deleted after your passing.
Online identity theft continues to be a problem, even after death. Experts estimate that 2.5 million of the 15 million identities stolen through social media outlets belong to dead people. Avoid potential problems with identity theft by informing your loved ones of your social media accounts.
Knowing how to create a digital estate plan will help you ensure that your online life is managed after you pass away. For more tips, talk to an attorney like those at Valentine & Valentine PC who specializes in estate planning.