Only a decade ago, we received paper statements and kept file cabinets with financial and tax records. But in the age of computers and the internet, so much of our lives is online. Unless we include our digital assets and social media in our estate planning, our loved ones may not be able to find critical documents.
If you use tax preparation software, your records are on your computer. Facebook and email accounts, blogs and photos stored digitally are commonly password protected. Unless we make arrangements in advance, our loved ones may not be able to access these and the information could be lost forever.
Estate planning for digital assets and social media accounts is similar to estate planning for other assets. You need to make a list of what you have and where it is located, name someone to step in for you, provide that person with access, and provide some direction for what you want to happen to these assets.
Closing down accounts that are no longer needed will help to protect your family from identity theft after you are gone. So, the more we can do now to put things in order, the easier it will be for our families later.
Donating personal data to aid research, some think. Read more in this Scientific American article.
The law often lags behind life developments, but Washington already has a new law to guide estate planners in handling these important issues - the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. Ask us how we can help with streamlining your digital estate plan.