You know that you need to create a digital estate plan to better ensure that your wishes concerning your digital footprint are honored in the event of your death or incapacitation. Now it’s time to get started.
Unlike crafting a simple will, digital estate planning involves more than just listing one’s assets and the beneficiaries to whom each should be distributed. As a result, you’ll need to take several steps to create your initial digital estate plan in addition to any steps you’ll need to take down the road to better ensure that this document remains an accurate reflection of your digital footprint and your preferences for its management in the event of incapacitation or death.
Constructing levels of protection
Think about how often you access different accounts that you maintain online. Some you likely use multiple times each day, some a few times weekly and others you likely use more sparingly. When preparing your digital estate plan, start by constructing an “in case of emergency” sheet that contains instructions for accessing all of your most pressing accounts. Identify who should access them and how you want them managed in the event of incapacitation or death.
Next, you can move on to less urgent matters. You’ll want to consider each account and/or digital asset in the following ways:
- Who knows how to access the accounts and has your passwords?
- Who has permission to access them?
- Who (if anyone) is barred from accessing them?
- Will a site need you to specifically designate access before it can be transferred?
- How do you want the account or asset in question managed if you’re incapacitated?
- Are those directions different than they would be in the event of your death?
Finally, you’ll want to keep in mind that the area of law known as digital estate planning is constantly evolving. Seeking legal guidance periodically to ensure that your documents remain compliant with state law is going to help you to ensure that the legacy you envision for yourself is honored in the event of your incapacitation or death.