Build Your Digital Estate Plan In Four Steps
A digital estate plan has become increasingly important over the past decade as technology progresses and becomes more prevalent in our everyday lives.
To begin, ask yourself this - who has access to your online accounts and how will they be managed if you become incapacitated or pass away? You should be the one to decide. A digital estate plan allows you to elect a digital executor and specify your desires so you can alleviate some stress for your family members and ensure that you have your desired outcome. By following these four steps you can create your digital estate plan.
Step 1: Take inventory & provide access information
When creating your digital estate plan, it is important to take inventory of your digital assets and create a list. A digital asset includes:
- Hardware and software like your phone, computer, or tablet.
- Your social media, entertainment, and shopping accounts also qualify as assets.
- Your benefits, rewards, photos, videos, or anything else that is stored online or in the cloud is also a digital asset.
While taking inventory, it is essential to make a note of usernames and passwords to share with a trusted person (this will be your “digital executor”) to ensure continuity and responsible management of your digital estate.
Step 2: Allocate Access & Decide What Should Be Done with Each asset
After you’ve created a list of all of your digital assets, you need to determine how the assets will be distributed and if they will continue on or not. Some information you may want saved and archived or erased. You may also wish to allocate it to friends or family. For each asset you must specify how you’d like your digital executor to proceed.
Make sure to store your inventory list, usernames, passwords, and designations in a secure but accessible location. It can be with an attorney, online storage, or in a locked file cabinet or safe. Regardless of where you decide to store this information, make sure the people who need it can find it and can access the plan you’ve made.
Step 3: Name A Digital Executor
After you’ve created your list and determined your plan, you need to name a digital executor. This person is designated to help settle your digital estate per your instructions based on the plan you have created. You can even designate the executor of your Will as your digital executor should you choose to do so. The designation of a digital executor may not be legally binding or enforceable in some states, but you should still create a plan and name someone you trust for this role.
Step 4: Make it Legal
The last step is to make your digital estate plan legal. Depending on where you live you may be able to formalize your digital estate plan in a legally binding document such as your Will or as an appendix to your Will.
Be cautious! Do not put passwords or other access information in your Will because upon death your Will becomes a public document, which means anyone can read it. A solution to this is to make a note in your Will referring to the outside source which contains your digital estate plan.
At Copper Leaf Financial we assist our clients with setting up a digital estate plan and all other types of estate planning documents. Simply contact us for more information.
With offices in Rutland and Williston, Vermont Copper Leaf Financial develops a customized wealth management plan designed to integrate every aspect of your financial life. Call us today at 802-878-2731 to schedule a strategy session and begin building your road map to financial success. You can also email us at email@example.com.