The importance of solid planning for digital assets increases with each passing year. Fortunately, an estate plan can incorporate several methods to keep track of a person’s digital footprint and make access to accounts easy.
This practice has relevance during times of severe illness or death as well as life disruptions such as divorce.
Prepare an emergency document
According to Consumer Reports, the first step involves putting together a document that includes all relevant online information. This document should include the following information all organized and in one place:
- Essential personal and family details
- Contact information
- Information on the location of documents
- Financial information
The next step involves finding a safe way to share passwords with a family member or estate plan executor or administrator. This will allow safe access to accounts at a critical time, allowing the continued payment of bills and the notification of death to relevant parties. A password manager can help with this process.
Prepare a modern will
Each online company has its own rules for accessing accounts after the death of the account holder. A will can codify the ability of heirs to gain access to information and digital assets and could avoid more prolonged requirements for access.
Current law allows in most states the ability to designate someone to access the online information of the deceased party. Lawyers can add a clause in the will to accomplish this. While it might not allow for reading information protected by privacy laws, such as emails, it will likely make it easier to pass on valuable digital assets.