If you think that an estate plan is just a simple will, think again: These days, even a basic estate plan needs a will, advance directives and powers of attorney designations, and many ordinary people are exploring things like living trusts, Medicaid planning and more.
It may also be time to discuss a digital estate plan.
What’s a digital estate plan and why do you need one?
If you’re like most people these days, your “real life” and your “digital life” are pretty deeply enmeshed. You probably:
- Have numerous social media accounts that help you connect with people
- Use email accounts for personal business and professional business
- Have online accounts for your bank, retirement funds, investments and more
- Use cloud storage for documents, important files and photos
- Have digital memberships to everything from Kindle Prime to Hulu
- Pay most of your bills online, including your mortgage and utilities
You may even write a blog, own an Etsy store, sell on eBay or run an online business. You may also do your taxes online, have shopping accounts and more.
A digital estate plan is nothing more than a way of organizing your digital information so that the executor of your estate can manage these accounts if you die or your power of attorney can manage them if you’re incapacitated.
Through your digital estate plan, you can list all of your digital accounts (and their passwords), along with your explicit instructions for how each account is to be handled. You may want your Facebook account archived, for example, but you may want your emails deleted without being read. Whatever you choose, your representative is supposed to honor your directives.
In addition, the digital estate plan also serves as a way to protect those you leave behind. With this in place, you can make sure that precious family pictures aren’t lost somewhere in Cloud storage forever and that all your assets are found so that they can be properly distributed.
Don’t leave your loved ones confused and distressed because they’re locked out of all your digital accounts. Finding out more about effective estate planning can help you avoid problems.