How to Handle Your Digital Legacy After Death
The term digital legacy is a recent one that has become a key part of estate planning. Many of us have multiple digital accounts and automatic payment plans set up online, and it’s a good idea to think about how to pass on, preserve or cancel these accounts after death.
We often don’t think about our digital legacy, but there are steps you should consider taking that can help your survivors manage your online assets.
First, you’ll want to assign a trusted and tech-savvy person to serve as your “digital executor.” They will need to understand how to access digital assets and how to manage them according to your wishes. It’s also important to reference who this digital executor is in your will.
To simplify the digital-estate planning process, look to break the process down into manageable chunks of information in one document that covers six areas:
- Online passwords
- Email addresses
- URLs you regularly access and a description of their service/purpose (such as video streaming services or sites for automatic payments)
- Social media accounts
- Online bank accounts and other financial assets
- Any online assets, like music, video, movies, or photos
One way to put much of this in one place is to use a password manager, which stores your passwords for you. This manager enables you to choose an emergency contact who has approval to access your archive of passwords if you die. Researching the best password managers to use will deliver a list of choices to review for your ideal service.
Keep in mind, you can’t assume that your digital executor will know what your online assets represent to you. Creating this six-step list will help them properly access your accounts and manage them per your instructions. Just as important as passwords to your accounts, are the questions and answers to any security questions related to accessing them. This will help your executor be able to verify your login identity so they can retrieve your information.
When creating your list, also make a note of which accounts should be closed once you pass away and which accounts should be kept open. For the accounts that remain open, you’ll want to choose a curator to manage them.
With all this detailed information, the more explicit you are in outlining your digital legacy plan the easier it will be for your executor to process and manage your online accounts in the exact ways you’ve expressed.
Since we live in a technologically advanced age in which people open multiple online accounts, we must be prepared for how to handle these connections after we’re gone. It benefits you and your survivors to add digital legacy services as part of settling your estate or that of a loved one, and we hope you are inspired to begin creating your own.