Digital life is as tangible and real these days as the one we live. Our accounts, our money, our cryptocurrency, and in some cases, our love lives are in the digital ecosystem. Now, what happens to all that when you die? Who gets to control that after you are gone? This is where Digital Estate Planning comes into play.
A Digital Estate Plan can help you protect and secure all your digital data by allowing you to give its access to someone you appoint yourself. They can then use it and/or protect that data by either disposing it or using it for themselves.
Planning out a digital estate plan
Here is the step by step process of creating a Digital Estate Plan.
Step one: Digital estate inventory
The first thing one needs to figure out before creating a Digital Estate is to see what they have in their Digital Ecosystem. Here is a checklist for a Digital Estate inventory
- Any social media accounts that may be on websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
- Subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Canva, Adobe, etc.
- Email accounts on websites like Gmail, Yahoo, etc.
- Online bank accounts
- Credit card accounts with any bank.
- Utility accounts to pay for water, electricity, internet, etc.
- Contact list that may include the people you know, their phone number, email, etc.
- Shopping accounts on websites like Amazon, eBay, etc.
- Storage accounts like Google Drive or Google Photos
- Computer, laptops, smartphones, and the data they have inside them
- Any digital collections
- Websites or blogs that belong to you, which may or may not produce any income
- Online marketplace stores, drop shipping stores on websites like Shopify, Etsy, etc.
- Domain names that are registered in your name
- Cryptocurrency wallets with any cryptocurrency
- All forms of text, graphics, and audio files
Once you have made a full inventory of your digital estate, you can move on to the next step.
Step Two: Access Or deletion
Now that you know what you have in your digital inventory, the next step is to decide which parts of the estate can be accessed and which elements will be deleted. This is very important as a few things may not be legally accessible to other people but yourself. These can be actual professional data protected by a non-disclosure agreement you have done with your employer. So planning this step is also essential for you.
You should also plan if the assets generate revenue for you, who will be entitled to that revenue, and how they will receive it.
You should also notify the executor of the digital assets so that this information does not spring upon them suddenly after your demise. They also need to plan out what to do with all your data.
Step three: Securing all the information
Now that you have figured out what information goes where and how it will be used after your death, the next step is that you secure everything. This can be up to you, and you can plan how you want all your information to be passed on to other people. Here are a few ideas on how you can pass on everything.
- You can use an online storage service as the first point of entry to all your digital life. A word docx file with all your passwords in a protected Google drive will suffice.
- Your attorney can have all your digital estate access, and they can pass it on to your executor.
- A locked file cabinet or a bank locker only to be opened after the time of death with keys in your real estate.
- Point out any locations, keys in your last will.
Step four: Make everything legal
The final step to your digital estate planning is to name your executor and inform your attorney about it. Make the last executor’s name appear in all the legal documents of your will so that there will not be any problems in the final distribution of your digital assets.
Here is what you needed to know about digital estate planning and how you should create it. Your digital estate is significant in times we live in, and you must protect it from hacking or other things that may cause damage to yourself.