From social media to online bills, it is essential to plan what will happen to your virtual life once you are gone.
Have you noticed more and more articles popping up about your “digital assets”? When the background chatter in the media finally catches your attention about something, that is usually a sign to start paying attention.
Proper planning means planning for all the lives you lead. It used to be that you had your life in the flesh and then you had your life in paper, that is, your accounts and records and even contracts. Nowadays, you live much of your life on the internet.
Your online life requires that information about your digital assets and accounts (especially passwords) must be included as part of your comprehensive estate plan. In turn, this information must be kept up-to-date and made available to your executors (also known as personal representatives), financial agents and trustees.
Likely, the digital age will only get more complex. Kiplinger recently addressed this subject of digital assets in a postmortem planning context in an article titled “Protect Digital Assets After Your Death.”
Everything from simple email accounts to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and then all the way to investment and banking sites, each of these contains information that can be of immeasurable value economically or sentimentally.
For example, what about your iTunes music collection or Kindle book collection? On the other hand, if your digital information is not secured postmortem, then it could become a liability in terms of identity theft.
Bottom line: without a comprehensive list of accounts and passwords, executors, trustees and even heirs might have a hard time accessing and/or closing your accounts.
Do not expect any help at common law either. These are largely uncharted legal waters. In fact, internet companies themselves are only just starting to address this issue.
Reference: Kiplinger (May 2013) “Protect Digital Assets After Your Death”