Digital legacy planning is often overlooked.
Throughout most of human history, assets were tangible.
These included family heirlooms, jewelry, land, and livestock.
Later on, “currency” issued by monarchs and banks appeared.
In recent years, wealth has evolved to include the digital realm.
According to a recent The Lawton Constitution article titled “Wannabe Wired: Preparing your digital legacy,” these digital assets are often overlooked when it comes to estate organization and planning.
What does your digital legacy include?
It encompasses bank accounts, websites you own, or social media.
It also includes you digital creations like original artwork, music, or online videos.
One thing traditional property and digital property have in common?
Both require careful planning.
Not all online platforms have the same rules guiding ownership of the accounts left behind when the owners die.
In some cases, the profile can be deleted or deactivates if the owner has indicated this to be his or her wish.
Often digital companies do not allow others who are not the owner to access the data or account.
What can you do?
The best place to begin is to inventory your accounts.
Make a list of their usernames and passwords.
Once you have done this, research the policies of each of the platforms to learn if users can make “estate plans” for what happens when they die.
For example, Facebook has a feature where you can select a legacy contact.
This individual will have permission to determine who is allowed to post on your account, to manage tribute posts, and to request removal of the account.
Within Facebook, you can find this under the General Account Settings.
There should be an option labeled “Memorialization Setting.”
Unfortunately, not all platforms make planning your digital legacy a simple process.
Some will simply delete inactive accounts.
This can cause a problem if you conduct business via a specific email.
Your family could lose valuable information.
When you have created your comprehensive digital legacy list, share your wishes with a trusted family member.
Keep the list in a secure place.
Do not include this list in your last will and testament.
A last will must be probated and becomes public record.
You do not want people in the public to have this information.
It would be a perfect opportunity for identity theft.
Start planning your digital legacy and work with an experienced estate planning attorney to get your affairs in order.
Reference: The Lawton Constitution (May 12, 2020) “Wannabe Wired: Preparing your digital legacy”