Ask an Attorney: Should I Have a Digital Estate Plan?

This post is contributed by Network Law Firm Zimmet Law Group. 

Many people create an estate plan to prepare for what will happen to their assets in the event of their death. These plans consist of many different parts: a will, trusts, a power of attorney, properties, life insurance policies, financial accounts, and more. Over time, how these assets are collected has changed. In the past, people were used to collecting paper documentation of these assets and gathering them in a safe place for their future. With the new age of increasing technology, preparing these documents is moving to the digital world. 

Today, people often manage their finances, business lives, and personal lives online. It is important for these digital assets to be secured in the event of the individual’s death so that their loved ones know what to do with them. Here are five important tips for creating a digital estate plan:

Create a List of Digital Assets

The first step in creating a digital estate plan is to take inventory of all your digital assets. If you own a business, it is important to create a separate list of your business assets. Your digital assets can include:

  • Computing hardware such as computers, hard drives, flash drives, tablets, smartphones, cameras, etc.
  • Any information stored electronically
  • Online accounts such as email, social media, photo sharing, shopping, storage, websites, blogs, etc.
  • Domain names
  • Intellectual properties

In addition to this, you must leave instructions on how to access these assets. This can include login and password information as well as answers to any security questions.

Outline Your Wishes

Along with the list of your assets should be how you wish for them to be managed. For example, you may want some assets to be saved while others can be deleted or transferred to loved ones. For a business, you may want another person to keep running it or maybe have it shut down. 

Designate a Digital Executor

When creating an estate plan, you should name a person that you trust to carry out the wishes for your digital assets. This named individual will be responsible for handling your estate plan after your death. 

Store the Information Safely

Once all of your information and plans are together, it is crucial to protect your plan in a secure location. This may be with an attorney, an online storage service, or a safe. In doing so, be sure to inform your digital executor of where you choose to store it and how it can be accessed. 

Formalize the Plan

The last step to ensuring your digital estate plan is together is to legalize these wishes. One way this can be done is by naming your digital executor and the location of the plan within a legal will. It is important to not include any passwords of sensitive information regarding the digital plan in your will, as it becomes a public document after you pass. 

Visit them online at https://www.zimmetlaw.com

This blog is not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice. Regulations will vary from state to state. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.