02 May How To Organize Your Digital Estate In Three Steps
In the age of technology, the number of online accounts people own is increasing. These accounts, otherwise known as digital assets, affect your estate plan. Important documents, such as bank statements and bills, used to arrive in the mail. Now, most people receive these documents via password-protected email accounts. This impacts your estate when you die because it affects your personal representative’s ability to gather your assets and pay your debts. Additionally, other online assets, such as your social media accounts, will need to be deactivated or memorialized when you die. You can make the probate and end-of-life process easier on your personal representative and heirs by organizing your digital assets with these three steps.
1. Catalog Your Accounts and Assets
Cataloging your accounts and assets is the first step to organizing your digital estate. Odds are, you have online accounts ranging from iTunes to email to Facebook. Creating a list of all your accounts and assets will help you keep track of what you have. This will come in handy later on when your heirs or personal representative are memorializing or deactivating your accounts and sorting through your assets during the probate process.
2. Keep Track of Login Information
Keeping track of login information is the next step to organizing your digital estate. There are two ways to keep track of your login information:
1. The old fashioned use of pencil and paper.
2. Going digital.
Writing down your login information using pencil and paper is quick and easy. If you’re more tech savvy, an app or website is the better way to go. Apps, such as the ones discussed in this article, make it easy to store password information on your phone or tablet. Websites, such as KeePass, can also help you keep track of passwords.
Note: Safety precautions are necessary, but there are benefits.
Both routes for organizing your login information require safety precautions. If you use the old fashioned paper and pencil option to organize your digital estate, split up and store your usernames and passwords in two different locations. That way, no one can easily access or take all of your information. Or, keep your logins with a trusted individual or a secure location, such as a safe.
Going digital also requires safety precautions. Online accounts are hackable, so it’s important to make sure the site you use is reputable. In order to protect your data, installing internet security software such as Zonealarm is essential. Also, make sure you pass along your login information for the app or master key for the website you use to a trusted individual. Otherwise, you’ll be back to square one and no one will know your login information or be able to easily access your accounts.
By organizing your login information, you can cut down on the time your personal representative or heirs spend gaining access to your online accounts and assets. This could help your estate get settled more quickly.
3. Leave Instructions In Advance
The final step to organizing your digital estate is leaving instructions in advance. Similar to using your estate plan to leave burial instructions, you should leave instructions for your digital estate. By leaving instructions, you can dictate if you would or would not like your social media accounts deactivated or memorialized. You can give someone else permission to take over your blog or website, and you can ensure your heirs have access to any digital assets you own, such as if you own a credit card for bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. If you are someone who currently has cryptocurrency and are not sure how to handle it with your digital estate and in general, you will need to contact an accountant who has a background with cryptocurrency and how it works with your finances to discuss your cryptocurrency taxes. This is important to do and work out with a professional, so when anything happens this means that all is in order and your family/heirs won’t be left with sorting out part of your financial business.
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