Chances are that, at least a few times a day, you open up various apps and visit various websites on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or another device. As more adults live numerous aspects of their life increasingly online, this isn’t an uncommon reality. Yet, few adults have taken the time to consider how their digital footprint will be managed in the event that they pass away or are incapacitated due to injury or illness.
The management of one’s digital assets and overall electronic “presence” in the world is the heart of digital estate planning. If you’re an adult and you have not made digital estate planning efforts yet, it’s time to roll up your sleeves.
When crafting an estate plan, you’ll need to ask yourself two key questions: Which digital assets and password-protected accounts do I need to address and how do I want each of them managed? For example, say that you have stored all of your family photos in the Cloud. You’ll want to leave instructions concerning how to access them, who has your permission to access them, etc.
Note that the management of various digital assets will require more than simply noting your login, password and who you want to manage a specific account after you’re gone. Some sites require your permission before they’ll permit the transfer account access after your death, etc. Other digital assets – including cyber-currency and some forms of intellectual property – are simply so complex that you’ll need to follow asset-specific guidance when trying to address them in your estate plan.
This area of law is new and ever-changing. Thankfully, you don’t have to manage digital estate planning alone. You can seek legal guidance at any time.