Estate Plan for your Digital LifeSubmitted by Mission Financial Planning on September 4th, 2013
Mission Financial Planning helps clients plan ahead, so their heirs avoid the overwhelming and frustrating circumstances of inheriting an unorganized estate.
Services include recommending features and strategies to be included in estate plan documents as well as compiling necessary papers and contact information for various accounts and the professionals that you work with.
Mission Financial Planning helps clients get their affairs in order – in advance – so heirs don’t have to.
A frequently overlooked piece of the estate planning puzzle is how heirs or executors would handle your computer related life. For clients used to handling bills or bank accounts online, storing photos in the “cloud”, or saving data on a hard drive behind a password (think Quicken), we recommend an estate plan for your digital life.
At a minimum, you may want to share passwords to the most important or personally relevant programs, files or accounts with your loved ones. A more formal document, such as a digital will*, should include a list of all your log in credentials with a description of the data stored on your various devices, a list of accounts or memberships, and anything you might have saved in the “cloud”, along with the name(s) of the person you want to allow access. Even then, access might require a court order. The law is rapidly changing; be sure to talk with your estate attorney about what’s appropriate for you, and keep an eye on what’s happening in your state.
Twelve states introduced legislation this year proposing to grant expanded powers to an executor, personal representative or administrator of a person’s digital assets: Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon and Virginia. So far, seven states have passed laws governing digital asset management after death: Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Virginia. Maine passed a law this session to study the issue – See more at: http://congress.org/2013/06/13/states-examine-laws-governing-digital-acc...
For related reading, the website Digital Beyond features a comprehensive list of digital afterlife services including digital estate services, posthumous email services and online memorials; the sheer quantity of such services speaks to the growing interest and apparent need.
Whether the topic is internet passwords, updating the estate plan or simply the location of the estate documents, it’s vital that you stay current and communicate with trustees, executors and your heirs.
*A digital will should be in a safe place, but it should not be part of your normal will, which will be made public after you die.