Traditionally, estate planning has largely consisted of consulting with an experienced attorney, who would assist in preparing the proper documents, such as a Will, in paper form. However, with the rise of digital technology and its seemingly ubiquitous presence throughout nearly every facet of our daily lives, some believe it is only a matter of time before Delaware law approves the use of digital estate planning, wherein a person can organize their digital property and assets so as to make arrangements for what will happen to the property following their death.
While many people actively manage their lives and finances online, far less have organized these accounts in an easily accessible fashion for their loved ones should they unexpectedly pass away. Too often, the end result of such a situation is one of confusion for loved ones in distributing your assets as they struggle to navigate the digital lives left behind. On the other hand, by creating a digital estate plan, the testator can assist family in locating and accessing our digital accounts, as well as properly distributing assets to the appropriate beneficiaries.
Fortunately, a digital estate plan can be created in just a few easy steps. First, all digital assets and the means to access each one should be compiled into a single list. Your digital assets should include, amongst others, online banking, email, social media, and home utility accounts. As well, it is generally recommended that log-in information and passwords be included, though additional security measures may be taken to ensure proper protection of this vital information if necessary.
Next, it is imperative to choose what exactly you want done with these assets in the future. This decision includes spelling out how each asset should be handled, as well as the ways by which the digital assets are managed. Furthermore, if any of the assets hold monetary value, you may wish to advise that they be handled in a highly specific manner. Once this decision is made, you’ll then likely want to name an executor who will carry out your desires for your digital assets. It is important to note, however, that this position is not considered a legally binding designation in most states. Regardless, by designating a trustworthy individual to the position, you can help follow through with the instructions included in your digital estate plan. Finally, ensure this information is effectively protected by storing it in a secure location that can be easily accessed by the appropriate parties. Options for this step include storing the information with your attorney, a locked safe, or an online storage service.