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Thinking About Digital Estate Planning

Estate Planning Lawyer

Over the past several years, adults have increasingly found a need to consider their digital footprint when estate planning. Digital estate planning is the process of taking stock of one’s digital footprint and accounting for that reality within the broader context of an estate plan.

Take a moment to think about how many sites you access that require a login and password. What do you do on these sites? Do you have any intellectual property associated with these accounts, whether they be personal photographs and written words or inventions? Are these accounts tied to any financial assets? Do any of these accounts present aspects of your personal life to the world? Nowadays, Americans live a great deal of their lives online. Digital estate planning helps individuals to control what will happen to that online existence after they have passed away or become incapacitated due to injury or illness.

Who Accesses Your Online Accounts After You’re Gone

As an experienced estate planning lawyer – including those who practice at Kaplan Law Practice, LLC – can confirm, one of the primary questions that need to be answered when estate planning is “Who should and should not be granted permission to access my digital accounts in the event of my death or incapacitation?”. This is an important question because chances are that you don’t want to entrust such authority to just anyone. As much as you love your spouse, your kids, and your friends, you may not want them accessing your accounts in the event that you’re no longer in a position to control them.

Think carefully about who should be held responsible for accessing these accounts when you no longer can and what you’d like designated individuals to be able to do with those accounts. Otherwise, you’ll leave a great deal of questions and stress for your loved ones to wade through once you’re no longer in a position to deal with your accounts on your own.

How Such Accounts Are Accessed and How They Can Be Treated

Once your gone, do you want certain accounts to remain active and maintained? Do you want others to simply be closed out by a representative for your estate without revealing their contents to anyone? Considering your wishes for each of your digital accounts and assets will help to ensure that they are managed according to your preferences.

When engaging in digital estate planning, you will also want to speak with an attorney about how a representative from your estate will be placed in a position to access each of these accounts in the event of your death or incapacitation. Many cautious individuals regularly change their passwords and update, delete, or employ new accounts on a regular basis. Figuring out some sort of strategy, perhaps using a tool such as LastPass, will help to ensure that whomever is entrusted with your accounts can access them properly as soon as they have need of them but not a moment sooner.