Managing an estate plan presents multiple challenges, and now many individuals must develop a strategy for online accounts. This means different things for different people, depending upon how big an online footprint a person has.
At the minimum, though, any person with an active presence online should contemplate how to make things easier for loved ones after his or her death.
Managing digital accounts after death
PC Magazine provides a list of actions people should take to make things easier for a spouse, trustee or executor. Creating a comprehensive list of passwords and user names for online accounts or social media platforms tops the list. This information should go to the appropriate person. Password managers apps simplify this process.
While loved ones can often find ways to gain access to accounts after a death, setting this up beforehand makes things easier for all parties. Several online companies have a process in place to designate legacy access. Facebook has settings that allow a smaller version of a person’s account to remain active or an option that allows the complete removal of an account. Google has an inactive account manager that turns control over to a designated person.
Including digital matters in an estate plan
Forbes writes that failing to integrate a person’s digital life into an estate plan burdens heirs with extra work and costs. A person’s digital estate includes computer files, social media accounts, online financial accounts, smartphone information and digital medical records.
An inventory of digital assets is essential. The next step involves deciding who would best manage these assets (and possible liabilities) after death.