If you have ever forgotten a password to a digital account, then you know how difficult it can sometimes be to retrieve it. It might require remembering how you answered a security question like “Who was your favorite teacher growing up?” Remembering how you quickly answered that question several years in the past can be difficult. It is even more difficult, if not impossible, for an estate executor.
As more and more of our vocational, financial and personal business is done digitally it becomes increasingly difficult for our heirs to sort out our affairs after we pass away. As the New York Times points out in “Plan Your Digital Legacy, and Update Often,” executors and heirs can no longer simply walk through our homes and see what property we own.
Instead much of our property can now be stored digitally, including pictures, movies, music and even valuable domain names. We might also own digital currency and conduct our business and financial affairs online.
For executors and heirs to have access to these digital items, they often need to know where to look for them and what the passwords are to access them.
The best way around this dilemma is to plan ahead and to organize your digital assets in a way that makes them easy to access after you pass away. You can create a list of all the accounts you own and use a password manager to store the passwords.
The master password can then be stored in a safe or with an attorney (or both) so it can be made available to your estate’s executor. You can also use online storage services to make important files, such as family photos and movies, easy to access after you pass away.
Digital estate planning is still in its infancy, but it is important to talk with your elder law attorney about making your digital assets part of your larger estate plan.
Reference: New York Times (Nov. 11, 2015) “Plan Your Digital Legacy, and Update Often”