In recent years, people have moved much of their personal interactions to digital space. From sharing vacation pictures on Facebook or Twitter to uploading a video of a grandchild’s first steps to YouTube, more and more people find themselves occupying digital real estate. What happens to this incredible amount of content when you die?
Individuals and families alike are starting to realize the importance of at least mentioning online assets in estate planning documents. Many people are going so far as to name a “digital executor.” They can provide this individual with instructions, lists and passwords. Some of the digital executor’s responsibilities can include:
- Archiving digital content such as pulling images offline for storage on flash drives or data disks.
- Organizing files or erasing a computer’s hard drive.
- Maintaining certain social networking sites and closing others.
- Transferring control of certain accounts to other loved ones.
- Informing online communities about your passing.
One of the most important things you can do when developing an estate plan is ensuring there is a complete record of your online accounts with login information including passwords. While on the surface, it might seem like a poor decision to keep such sensitive information in physical form, this document can be stored in a secure location such as a bank lock box or a fireproof safe in your home – with instructions as to its whereabouts specified in your will.
It can be challenging to consider your mortality when developing a comprehensive estate plan. Fortunately, you are given the chance in the present to ensure your wishes for the future are honored. By deciding who gets what, you can prevent heated disputes after your passing. Don’t ignore the importance of your digital footprint. With so many online communities, file sharing and image hosting sites, it makes sense to have someone who can manage that information for you after your passing.