As everyone increasingly uses online tools in their daily lives, it becomes imperative to make sure there is a roadmap for accessing information. As this article states, people should take five steps in planning for their Digital Lives (click here to read the article: “Forgotten In Estate Planning”).
Five Steps to Manage your Digital Life
1). Maintain lists of your digital information. Write down login usernames and passwords for your email address. Many people pay bills online these days. Any information to access these online payment sites should be written down so that the proper person can access the account. Even login information for social networking sites should be on the list in case anything happens to you, and then the person with access will be able to disable these accounts.
2). Send the information to a trusted person. Whoever you name as the beneficiary of your estate in your Will should probably also be trusted with access to your digital information. A spouse, child or someone you can trust not to use the login information of these sites is the best person to share this information with.
3). Make people aware of who has the information. It may be best to state in your Living Trust or Will the person that you left responsible to gain access to each email account, online bill pay account or even networking sites. Stating who will be able to access this online information will help resolve any formal issues.
4). Leave instructions. When listing all online access information for any website or online account, explain in detail what each site was used for and why you opened the account. Someone may have never access the site before and they will need to know how to properly login and what purpose the site served. This is especially important for online bill paying sites, because family members will need to pay off any debt left behind.
5). Note everything in an estate plan and update it regularly. When writing your Living Trust or Will, make sure to add the name of the trusted individual who you allowed access to all your digital information. If you decide to allow new individuals to have access to your digital information, make sure to update your Living Trust or Will with the name of the new individuals. Updating your will each year is strongly recommended. You may also add new digital sites or accounts as time goes on so updating the list of digital information is important to do regularly.
At Estrada Legal, we work with clients to make sure their digital information is incorporated into their estate plans. Please contact us if you need help with incorporating digital information into your living trust today.