If you’re like most Americans, you have a rich digital life. You may bank online, invest online and certainly interact socially online. But where do those assets go after you go? And how will your loved ones get access to them, if you haven’t left behind specific instructions and passwords?
Unfortunately, identity theft is rising even for the deceased. TIME magazine once reported that over 2.5 million Americans became victims of identity theft after they died. Disposition of digital assets, like any other property, should be part of your estate plan. Here are some tips for protecting your digital assets after death:
Take inventory of your digital assets
Start by making a list of all your online accounts, including the website addresses, your usernames, and passwords for each account. Digital assets can also include documents on your computer – photos, videos or anything else you have created that may have value. Store these assets in a secure system such as a web-based digital asset management system.
Determine what you want to happen with your digital assets
You may want to pass along your more personal digital assets like family photos to your heirs. Facebook allows accounts to be closed or set up as a memorial. Google allows its users to designate a beneficiary for all Google accounts or through its Inactive Account Manager. If you have a Yahoo! website or email account, it will be closed upon your death if your executor provides Yahoo with the proper proof. Be clear about what you want and then provide the instructions and means for that to be carried out.
Create documentation giving your executor access to your digital accounts
You can either have your estate executor take care of the disposition of your digital assets or create a separate power of attorney for digital assets if you want to have another family member take care of closing down or transferring your accounts. However, bank, retirement and investment accounts will pass to those named on beneficiary forms, so be sure those are kept up to date.
This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
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