What is a Digital Estate Plan and Do I Need One?

With social media being part of the everyday life for many, the question presents itself as to how you want your social media to be handled when you die.  Do you want your loved ones to announce your passing on social media?  Would you prefer the privacy of having the account shut down? These are examples of how a Digital Estate Plan would help your family and friends honor your wishes in social media and other ways when you pass.  This article will discuss a Digital Estate Plan to help you understand what it is and decide if it is something you need. 

What is a Digital Estate Plan?

Digital estate planning is the process of organizing your digital property and digital assets, and making arrangements for what should happen to that digital landscape after your death. 

Step 1:  Make a List of Digital Assets. 

The first step of making your Digital Estate Plan is to take inventory of all your assets, which could include the following:

  • Email
  • Social media accounts
  • Online log in information for banks, stock trading accounts, retirement accounts
  • Photo and video sharing accounts
  • Domain names/blogs/ websites you own
  • Reward accounts such as airline mileage accounts
  • Intellectual property, including copyrighted materials and trademarks
  • Online diaries/calendars/notes

Step 2:  Decide What You Want Done with Assets. 

The next step is to think through your ideal scenario for what you want to happen with your assets:

  • Do you want social media accounts deleted, or to continue running under someone’s direction?
  • How will your email accounts be handled?  (For helpful information on the policies of email providers, here is a resource:  https://www.everplans.com/articles/what-happens-to-my-email-accounts-when-i-die
  • Which assets have monetary value?

Step 3:  Store the Information in an Easily Accessible Place

To be useful, the Digital Estate Plan needs to be stores somewhere that it can be located easily after your passing.  There are many ways you can store your Digital Estate Plan.  You can contact an attorney, you can store the information online, or you can store the information in a physical location, like a bank. 

Step 4:  Incorporate the Digital Estate Plan into Your Overall Estate Plan

A complete California Estate Plan generally includes a Living Trust, Powers of Attorney for Property and Healthcare, a “HIPAA” authorization, a Living Will/Advance Healthcare Directive,  a Pour-Over Will, Deeds to your properties, Beneficiary Designations on various assets, and Guardian Nominations for minor children.  You can include the Digital Estate Plan that you have organized into you overall California Estate Plan.  The attorneys at the Law Office of David Knecht have extensive experience in estate planning and can advise you on how to create a plan that sets out your wishes for your loved ones in the event of your death.  Contact us at 707-451-4502 for more information.