Creating a Digital Estate Plan

As October 19-25 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week, it’s a good time to ensure your estate plan is current and comprehensive.

Although it is often overlooked, including a digital estate plan that addresses financial and social digital assets is becoming increasingly important.

To get started, compile a list of important files and photos you have on your phone, desktop, laptop or flash drives; in a cloud; or on backup CDs or DVDs. Sketch out the folders where they are kept. Then create an inventory of any bank, brokerage, retirement plan, credit card, loan or insurance accounts you access online. Include information on how to access any financial software you use. If you have any intellectual property, an online store or valuable domain names, remember to delineate what you want done with them.

Even though many states do not recognize digital executors, you can still name a trusted individual (perhaps a son or daughter who is particularly adept with technology) to follow your wishes or at least help your traditional executor. Make a comprehensive list of essential passwords and PIN numbers for that individual. For security sake, store the list in a safety deposit box or use an online storage service created for this purpose, such as Everplans. Do not include passwords in your will, since it will become a public document when you die.

Next, make a to-do list outlining how you want your online social assets handled. You may choose to have your Facebook profile deleted or memorialized after your death. If you prefer to keep it active, you can designate a “legacy contact” to manage it. Google’s Inactive Account Manager lets you tell the company what to do with your Gmail, Blogger, YouTube and other accounts when you depart.

If you want to leave some sort of digital message after your death, you might ask someone to post a photo album chronicling your life on Flickr or a personal video to your YouTube channel. You can write final letters to family and friends on sites like Afterwords and My Goodbye Message. To Loved Ones allows users to schedule messages to be sent on birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions.

If you have any questions about estate planning, please contact Warady & Davis LLP at (847) 267-9600. We can work closely with your financial, tax and estate professionals to make sure your plan addresses a changing landscape. Call us to schedule a meeting of your advisor team.


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