Are you one of those people who keep all of your digital passwords in your head or do you keep them written down somewhere? If you tend to store this information in your head, it might not have occurred to you that your loved ones will have no way to access your knowledge in the event of your death or incapacitation. If you write your passwords down, it may not have occurred to you that your loved ones will need to know where this reference document is when you’re no longer in control of all of your accounts.
Access to digital passwords and accounts in the event of an individual’s death is just one of the concerns addressed by the digital estate planning process. This new and rapidly-evolving area of law allows individuals to leave detailed information and instructions about how to access digital assets, information, intellectual property, password-protected accounts and medical records after they have been incapacitated or passed away. If you don’t have a digital estate plan in place yet, it’s time to start thinking about crafting one.
Managing your devices and your internet footprint
The purpose of digital estate planning is brilliantly summed up by a Forbes headline from 2022 “New Estate Planning Rule: Don’t Leave an Electronic Mess.” Essentially, digital estate planning will allow you to make sure that your devices and internet presence are managed according to your preferences when you’re gone and it will help ensure that this management process isn’t unreasonably burdensome for your loved ones.
Keep in mind that you may want to grant some people the authority to access certain information and not others. For example, you may want your spouse to have access to all of your digital assets save for certain accounts that you’d prefer to entrust to a sibling.
Digital estate planning is a daunting task. But working with a legal professional to navigate this evolving area of law effectively can help to ensure that everything from photos on your phone to online bank accounts is managed according to your wishes once you’re gone.