Have you ever experienced the frustration of forgetting a password or login information for one of your online accounts? The process to regain access to your account can be maddening. Now, think about what your loved one might experience if they need to gain access to your accounts after your death. Would they know where to begin? Have you provided a trusted friend or family member with a list of your digital accounts and passwords, or at the very least, provided them with the location of where that information is stored?
In today’s digital age, you must remember access information for not only social media and consumer sites, but also highly sensitive accounts with banks, investment firms, accounting and tax services, and credit card companies. By creating a digital asset plan, you can create a quick reference source of login and password information for yourself, and help your family locate and access your accounts should they need to do so after your death.
How should you create a digital plan?
1. First, create a digital inventory. Your inventory may look something like this:
• An itemized list of computing hardware, such as personal computers, external hard drives or flash drives, tablets, smartphones, digital music players, e-readers, digital cameras, and other digital devices. It is a good idea to reference the location of each item, the corresponding operational manuals, and warranty information.
• List all data that is stored electronically. Detail whether that information is stored online, in the cloud, or on a physical device. This data might include family genealogy, health records, photos, personal and business contact information, educational and military service information, etc.
• List online accounts, such as email, social media accounts, shopping accounts, photo and video sharing accounts, online storage accounts, and websites and blogs that you may manage.
• List domain names you own and expiration/renewal dates for the same.
• List intellectual property, including copyrighted materials, trademarks, and any code you have written and own.
2. Record your login and password information for each online account. Keep this list updated regularly and include answers to your security questions.
3. Specify how you would like these digital assets handled. If you wish to have some items archived or saved after your death, you will need to provide clear instructions to your loved ones or the person you have asked to act as the executor or trustee of your estate. Similarly, if you wish to transfer any of these accounts to family members, friends or colleagues, it would be best to provide written instruction of your intentions.
4. Store your digital plan in a secure but accessible location. Regardless of where you decide to store this information, make sure the people who need access to these accounts know where your digital plan is located. Typically, it is a good idea to share the location of this information with your spouse, an adult child, or a trusted family member. Your attorney also can store your digital plan in his/her files, especially if you do not trust anyone else with this sensitive information.
For more information on estate planning, contact Davis & McCann, P. A., Dodge City, KS. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on Estate Planning, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate Transactions, 1031 Exchanges and related matters.
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