What is a Digital Legacy?
Traditionally, estate planning has been centered around tangible assets such as artwork, property, money, and memorabilia. In the past, your executor would have access to your filing cabinet, and be able to close and manage all of your various accounts when you are gone. However, our lives have increasingly migrated online, and while this provides convenience and heightened security, it can also lead to unexpected obstacles for your heirs. In most cases, without a digital estate plan in place, your family cannot legally access your accounts, leaving all of your photos, documents, and various digital assets in danger of being lost.
The first step is to know what you have. This can be a daunting task, as most of us have lost track of just how many digital accounts and storage libraries we have accumulated. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, here are some items you may want to consider:
Streaming Service Subscriptions
Online Banking Accounts
Online Utility Accounts
Social Media Accounts
Recurring Charitable Contributions
It will be important to create a password management system so that your digital executor will be able to access your accounts and follow your wishes accordingly. Your passwords are likely to change over time so it is doubly important to have a plan in place for ensuring that your family will have access to your accounts. Keeping track of our passwords can be a frustrating prospect, so you may want to enlist the help of professionals to help you create a lasting password management plan.
At SurroundUs, we have a team of friendly tech professionals who can help you to consolidate your passwords into one easy to manage location.
Develop a Plan
Once you have a complete picture of your digital assets, you will want to assign a digital executor who will have access to your passwords and accounts when the time comes. You’ll want to think about how you want your assets to be handled. When it comes to social media accounts, do you want your profile to be deleted, or memorialized? Some services, such as Amazon, do not allow you to pass on your purchased files to your heirs, so it is important to check the user agreements when making plans about who will acquire your data. Facebook and Google already have built-in digital legacy contact features, and Apple has recently made this available to its users. You may want to assign a separate entity to be in charge of your digital estate as many are surprised at the sheer breadth of their online assets, and each one may have special instructions as to how they should be handled.
If you want to create a digital inheritance plan, but you don’t know where to start, we have a range of service bundles designed to alleviate your burden, and give you the peace of mind knowing that your digital assets are protected.