Why Digital Estate Planning is Crucial

Natalie LeBlanc |
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Changes in the way we use technology to manage our lives mean changes in the way we must plan for our estates. From computer passwords to online banking, your estate plan should include all digital factors.

We all know how important it is to have a plan for your physical estate at the time of your death, including property, heirlooms, and financial assets. Many people, however, overlook their digital assets. More and more of what could be considered “digital property” is housed somewhere on your home computer or “the cloud,” including gigabytes of bills, tax documents, pictures, and receipts. To stay green, many of us no longer keep hard copies of these items, but this can make it much more difficult for your family to manage or even access your digital estate.

A crucial part of your digital estate is the password you use to protect it. Many of us hesitate to write these down, but keeping a record may be necessary when it comes to planning for your death. An alternative would be to express where your executor can locate your passwords rather than directly including them in your will.

Passwords become less helpful if your family members aren’t even able to identify all of the accounts you hold. It may be a good idea to keep a list of important accounts, banking or otherwise, that your family should be able to access. Some others might include your email, social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), online file storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), or desktop user accounts. You should also include your smartphone if you use a password (or “lock screen”) to gain access to it.

In your day-to-day activities, keep in mind the accounts you use and whether or not your family might need access to them after your death. If so, plan for it!