The days of paper documentation are long gone. Items previously collected and kept in a folder in your desk or filing cabinet are now stored digitally. For example, financial statements, bills, and account updates likely arrive in your email which can make it difficult for your loved ones to manage or distribute your estate after you pass. Without proper forethought, this can lead to confusion for family members, denial of access, and even an inability to locate the accounts or information in the first place.
By putting together a digital asset plan, you’ll help your family tremendously. They'll be able to locate and access the accounts you have online, determine if the digital asset has any financial value that needs to be distributed, successfully distribute the asset to the appropriate party, and avoid online identity theft.
So what should you do?
Make a List of Your Inventory
Put together a list of the digital assets you have. Your inventory may include:
Record Login Information and Passwords
Sharing your logins and passwords is essential to the stability and management of your digital assets. It is extremely important that you record this information for key accounts. Also, if you have computing hardware (computers, tablets, etc) you’ll want to record where those items are located as well.
Specify How You Would Like the Asset Handled
The way you handle different types of assets may vary. While you may want some assets to be archived and saved, you may want others to be deleted or erased, while others should be transferred to family members, friends, or business colleagues. You may have assets with monetary value that should be transferred to people who will continue to manage the accounts, and if this is the case, you may want to think about where that money is going and who will be able to access it after you’re gone.
Store Information in a Secure But Accessible Place
Regardless of where you decide to store your plan, make sure the people who need to know where the plan is actually know. Generally, it’s a good idea to tell one or two people you trust (such as your spouse, your adult children, or a close family member) where it's located and how to access it. This way, when time comes, the people who need to access it can.