Preserving Your Digital Estate

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"A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door." -Confucius

This isn't particularly a "fun" topic, but again, this day and age calls for it. If you have a lot of important business and data online (most of us do) let's ensure that nothing is ever lost.

Define "Digital Asset"

Before we go any further, the following could be considered digital assets in your name:

  1. Emails
  2. Social Media Sites
  3. Blogs
  4. Financial Accounts
  5. Music Files
  6. Photographs
  7. Videos
  8. Customer Database
  9. Cryptocurrency

The list goes on, but these are a few common personal online assets.

Taking Inventory

Have you created a will? If so, digital estate planning works similarly in theory.

And a huge component of the planning phase is to get your assets in order. The list provided is a great place to start. Are those items listed organized? Are they saved onto an external hard drive? Do you have them under certain files in your computer? ("The files are in the computer!")

Side: After compiling this list, it's important to decide if you want a fiduciary to disperse and allocate the information accordingly.

In addition to the items on our list, you should list out all of your passwords and security questions. But you probably shouldn't keep those in a Word Document or Google Doc. There are numerous password services that will keep those passwords safe for you. (Although most password managers cost a little cash, your privacy and safety are worth it in the end.)

As for social media, you do not need to leave login information for many social media accounts, according to their policies -- simply the username and information for how to contact the company is sufficient. These "deceased user" policies are often buried deep in their "help" sections and can be hard to find.

Here is a list of policies we located for the major companies:

Google

https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3036546?hl=en&ref_topic=2382809

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/help/1506822589577997/

Twitter

https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/contact-twitter-about-a-deceased-family-members-account

LinkedIn

https://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2842/kw/deceased

Instagram

https://help.instagram.com/151636988358045/

Pinterest

https://help.pinterest.com/en/article/deactivate-or-close-your-account

Yahoo

https://help.yahoo.com/kb/yahoo-account/SLN2021.html

WordPress

https://en.support.wordpress.com/deceased-user/

Take a few moments and familiarize yourself with each site's policies that matter to you.

If you take the time now to record which social media sites you have accounts and what you would like to happen after your death, your family will not have to guess after the fact, try to remember where you had accounts, or try to figure out what you would have wanted. They will see your instructions and know what to do.

Make a Plan and Stick to It

After collecting and listing out your digital assets, it's up to you and the fiduciary to make a plan for the future. Execute this kind of plan within your will and come to an agreement on asset alignment or destruction in the event of death or disability.

It's important to factor in the terms of use and agreement on your most important accounts (yep, those boxes you check and say you "read").

Winston Churchill once said, "Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential." And although we can't be certain the "plans" of our life, "planning" makes the uncertainty a little more bearable.

Need any help or clarification? Please reach out and give me a call. I'd love to walk you through some necessary, financially-sensitive steps in this information (and digital) age.

 

BE THE ROAR not the echo®

Warmly,

Janet Behm
Utah Real Estate Accountants
(801) 278-2700



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