Digital estate planning is one of those things that everyone needs to do. It refers to organizing all of your digital and online assets and property as well as finalizing decisions on what should happen to it in the event of your death. Nobody wants to confront death or even think about it for long. The good news is you don't have to dwell on it to plan effectively.
It's worth taking the time to plan for the inevitable so that you can have the peace of mind to focus even more fully on living and enjoying your life. That's why many people choose to pre-plan their funeral and overall organize their estate. Here are some tips for ensuring your best interests are protected through the process of digital estate planning.
Making Lists is Essential
The easiest and most effective way to ensure that your digital estate is in order is to create lists that are extensively organized and accessible to your loved ones. Start by making a master list of every single digital asset that you own. Someone in charge of your estate will be able to handle it much more effectively without having to search and guess at what's left behind. Some things that you will need to list include:
Hardware - This will be easy. List all your hard drives, smart phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops, desktop computers, and all other computers and computer hardware.
Software - If you own software programs like Microsoft Word or Final Draft, include theme here along with computer games.
Websites - Any blog, website or web page you own that results in income as well as those that don't.
Online financial accounts - Financial accounts that are entirely or partially accessed online, such as Paypal Credit.
Email accounts - All usernames and passwords to your email accounts.
Domain names - Any website domain names that you have registered should be included.
You may need to add and subtract types of online property from the list. Anything that you have online can be considered an online asset as long as you want someone else to have access to it in the event of your death.
Think carefully about who you give control to your online accounts and other digital assets. This should only go to someone who you trust to protect your personal information and best interests even after you are gone. You may trust someone to have access to your software, yet you may not trust the same person to access your email accounts. It's okay to designate different people for different access. As long as you select a strong digital executor, you will be protected.
Finally, keep in mind that digital estate planning is a new field, and things are likely to continue to change along with technology. As important as it is for you to make these plans now, you may want to assess them and reevaluate them at least every five years to be sure that things are still lined up exactly the way you want them. In doing so, you can be sure that your digital property and assets are protected. Consult an attorney, like Ritter & LeClere APC Attorneys At Law, during the planning process to ensure that the best interests of you and your family are protected.