If you’re like most Americans, you spend a considerable amount of your time online. Take a moment to think about how much of that time is spent on sites that require a login. Think about every account that is linked to your name and could potentially affect your reputation.
Whether you’re engaging on social media, monitoring financial transactions on a banking website, or uploading intellectual property to the Cloud, every online account you have that requires a login is an account that only you – or perhaps you and your spouse – have access to. This reality is why, regardless of your age, amount of wealth acquired, and familial status, it’s time to start thinking about digital estate planning.
What is a digital estate plan?
When properly executed, a digital estate plan is a set of legally-enforceable instructions concerning an individual’s online footprint. The terms of a digital estate plan must be honored in the event that the individual who has drafted it either passes away or is incapacitated by illness or injury.
There are a few reasons why every legally independent adult in the U.S. needs to have an updated digital estate plan in place at all times. First, this estate planning resource allows individuals to name who will and who won’t have access to their digital accounts and assets. There are legitimate reasons why some individuals don’t want their spouses to have access to their social media accounts, for example.
Second, digital estate plans help to ensure that keepsakes, intellectual property, and digital assets may be passed on after the individual who originally possessed them passes away. As more and more of most people’s life experience is increasingly documented online, this need is becoming exponentially pressing.
Finally, digital estate planning allows individuals to plan for how their online footprint will be managed after death. Some accounts may benefit from remaining open, while others will need to be wrapped up and closed. By thinking carefully about how you’ll want your online footprint managed, you’ll be in the best possible position to begin crafting your estate plans.