You’ve just met with an attorney to draft a will or trust. In those documents, you specify how you’d like your estate to be distributed upon your demise. Beneficiaries of retirement accounts and life insurance policies have been updated to reflect your current wishes. You’ve even signed a power of attorney, which allows someone to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. So what’s missing?
We are living our lives online now more than ever. As such, digital assets need to be accounted for as part of your estate plan. These assets include:
- Social media accounts
- Digital photos or videos
- Email accounts
- Payment apps (eg. PayPal or Venmo)
Innovation tends to outpace regulation, so the laws that govern access to digital assets are fairly new. If you don’t have a written plan for your digital assets, your heirs are subject to the terms of service and privacy policies of the sites where your accounts are held. Family photos and videos may be lost, social media accounts stay active long after you’ve passed, and money in online banking apps won’t be accounted for.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to create a digital estate plan.
Here are four tips to get started:
- Take inventory of your digital assets and store a list of passwords for your heirs. You can store all information in one place with password managers such as LastPass or Keeper.
- Decide how you want your assets to be managed. How do you want your credit card rewards to be used? Do you wish to have your Facebook account memorialized upon your passing? Be as specific as possible when outlining your wishes.
- Choose who will manage these assets. We recommend keeping the executor of these accounts consistent with the executor of your will.
- Provide your consent in writing. You can meet with an estate planning attorney to add the distribution of your digital estate as a codicil to your will.
Complete the missing piece of your estate plan by accounting for your digital assets. This can save time and reduce hassles for your executor. If you have any questions about creating a digital estate plan, do not hesitate to contact our office.