Digital Estate Planning
Most of us don’t give much thought to our digital lives when putting together an estate plan. But we should. Increasingly, our online passwords and accounts hold important financial and personal information that our families will need someday. Here’s a way to get started on your Digital Inventory and a form to get you started.
Make sure to store the Digital Inventory with your other estate planning documents and review it once a year, when you prepare your taxes, or on your birthday, or whatever annual anniversary will help you remember to do it.
If your computer or mobile phones are password protected, write down the passwords. Your family will need these to access the information that you’ve stored there.
Prepare a list of all of your online bank, brokerage, and retirement plans and their associated user id codes and passwords. Your family will need these to gain online access to these accounts.
Prepare a list of all of the automatic payments you make online each month and which account these payments are set up for. Your family will need this information to make sure that your bills continue to get paid and that there’s enough money in the relevant accounts.
Prepare a list of any automatic deposits that you receive each month, such as social security or pension payments. Your family needs to know what money is coming in and where to find it. (They also need to keep these accounts open after you die so that the last social security payment can be automatically withdrawn.)
Prepare a list of all of your email accounts and other social media accounts (like Facebook or Twitter) and list your user id codes and passwords to these as well, if you want your family to have access to these accounts after you die. This can incredibly useful to let your friends know that you’ve died and to invite them to a memorial for you. If you have specific wishes as to what you’d like your family to do with such accounts, leave written instructions as well.
If there are special people that you want notified upon your death, leave their email addresses listed. It’s amazing how that kind of information is immediately lost when someone dies, making it difficult for friends and family members to be notified.
And, if you want your family or friends to post a digital memorial online for you, leave written instructions about that as well, or a video or other photos that you’d like them to post.
Please use this as form template and adjust it as necessary.