Estate planning is far more than just creating a will. It is also about protecting your digital legacy. The presence you leave behind online and the instructions for handling can sometimes be as important as other aspects of your life. If you are considering what to do with your digital legacy, here is what you need to know.
What Is a Digital Legacy?
A digital legacy can refer to your social networking accounts, online communities in which you participate, and your blogs. It can also include financial accounts, such as your checking account, that you manage online.
It is very important that you include your digital legacy in your estate planning because some of it can impact how well the executor of your estate is able to properly settle your affairs. It can also have an impact on your family and how you are remembered.
What Should You Do?
To ensure that your online presence is properly settled, the executor needs to know exactly what accounts need to be handled. Create a list of all of your online accounts and write down your login information. Whenever you change the passwords for the accounts, you need to ensure that you update them on your list.
For each account, write instructions on what actions you want the executor to take. For instance, you can ask that he or she deactivate all of your social networking accounts. You can also instruct him or her to close all of your accounts that are tied to your finances. By doing this, you can avoid a situation in which someone gets your information and uses it without permission.
You can also opt to keep the social networking accounts and blogs activated. If so, you can instruct the executor to post a notice of your death to it. You can also instruct them to archive the blogs, if necessary.
Do not store the list or the login information where it can be obtained by someone other than the executor. You should instead place it in a location that is only available to the executor, such as a safe deposit box. Your estate planning attorney might also be willing to store the information until it is needed by the executor.
Consult with your estate planning attorney to learn what other steps you need to take to protect your digital legacy. He or she can help you explore other ways to make the job of settling your online accounts easier.