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Whether you think of our connected world as a benefit or as a time waster, there’s no escaping the complex red tape associated with providing access to our digital assets after we pass away. What lives online is neither easy to access nor is it clear cut as to who can get to it. So here are some things to think about when it comes to your digital world:
1. Make a list of all online accounts and how to access them. This is the core of any digital estate plan. List all relevant online accounts, from banking and investment websites to social media, smartphone sync sites such as iTunes and photo sharing sites, and even your home utilities, including cable modem or DSL accounts. Document the following information:
- Name of the account
- Contents of the account
- URL address
- Instructions for the account’s disposition, as well as which person is to undertake or supervise the disposition.
2. Write out your instructions. This is as simple as creating a list of what to do with all of a client’s online accounts. Consider a Facebook account, for example. Does the profile remain online as an historical timeline and/or tribute, or does the client want the account deleted?
3. Name a digital executor. Designate a person to carry out the digital plan, name this person in the will and ensure the designee knows how to access the digital estate. Give the digital executor power of attorney over digital accounts in order to access them.
4. Store your information in a safe place. With digital estate planning gaining more traction, planning services are starting to pop up that will allow your clients to store all their pertinent information in one place. This resource enables them to better protect their most sensitive information. In Password Box, for example, a client can open and enter usernames, passwords and directives for each and every digital asset, and even decide which heir gets which accounts.
While these steps may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, the best way to preserve your legacy is to make sure all details are completely documented.