Estate Planning for Digital Death

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A few years ago I had to change my name. I had done it before (divorce) and knew it would be a pain but this time, it took even longer. Why?  Because everything has gone digitial.  Not only did I have to change all the usual stuff – credit cards, bank accounts, social, etc., but this time my online social media profiles had to be changed.  Because my old email had my old name I got a new email.  What a pain.  I had to change my email address on every online account – that’s a lot.  It turned out to be a much bigger chore this time around.  It was actually easier to change my social security card.  If I had known it would be like this, I might not have changed it.

So, what then happens after death?  We’ve all been pushed to the cloud.  Our social lives are in the cloud on Facebook’s servers.  My professional life is on Linkedin.  My 140 character life is on Twitter and my sarcastic business and personal ramblings are on Blogger.  Our files are in the cloud.  Our music and photos are in the cloud.  All forms of digital communication are in the cloud – gmail, yahoo, etc.  Banking and access to our utilities has gone paperless and in the cloud.  We have to have special programs just to keep track of all the passwords because we’ve run out of sticky note space.

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, what will be of our digital estate?  This is a subject worth exploring because we’re all going to die but now, dying, like officially changing your name, is going to be an even bigger pain.

Who gets access to your stuff?  What stuff? How much stuff?  What if there is stuff you don’t want certain people to see like that stuff you’ve got hidden in a shoebox in your attic?  How do you distinguish which of your digital life is accessible and which should be locked forever?

They raise the question of privacy.  Are there emails and chat rooms you would rather not have a spouse or a sibling knowing about even upon death?  Would that information change the eulogy from one of love to bitterness?  Do you really want a loved one or a ex or bestfriend seeing your search history?  If you’ve managed to keep hidden your secrets online during life then how do you feel about them being exposed post mortem?

The Wall Street Journal reported about a new law in Delaware that will test these questions as it makes it easier for Executors to access your online accounts.  Read the full article here.

A few years ago I had to change my name. I had done it before (divorce) and knew it would be a pain but this time, it took even longer. Why?  Because everything has gone digitial.  Not only did I have to change all the usual stuff - credit cards, bank accounts, social, etc., but this time my online social media profiles had to be changed.  Because my old email had my old name I got a new email.  What a pain.  I had to change my email address on every online account - that's a lot.  It turned out to be a much bigger chore this time around.  It was actually easier to change my social security card.  If I had known it would be like this, I might not have changed it.

So, what then happens after death?  We've all been pushed to the cloud.  Our social lives are in the cloud on Facebook's servers.  My professional life is on Linkedin.  My 140 character life is on Twitter and my sarcastic business and personal ramblings are on Blogger.  Our files are in the cloud.  Our music and photos are in the cloud.  All forms of digital communication are in the cloud - gmail, yahoo, etc.  Banking and access to our utilities has gone paperless and in the cloud.  We have to have special programs just to keep track of all the passwords because we've run out of sticky note space.

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, what will be of our digital estate?  This is a subject worth exploring because we're all going to die but now, dying, like officially changing your name, is going to be an even bigger pain.

Who gets access to your stuff?  What stuff? How much stuff?  What if there is stuff you don't want certain people to see like that stuff you've got hidden in a shoebox in your attic?  How do you distinguish which of your digital life is accessible and which should be locked forever?

The Wall Street Journal reported about a new law in Delaware that will test these questions as it makes it easier for Executors to access your online accounts.  Read the full article here.

They raise the question of privacy.  Are there emails and chat rooms you would rather not have a spouse or a sibling knowing about even upon death?  Would that information change the eulogy from one of love to bitterness?  Do you really want a loved one or a ex or bestfriend seeing your search history?  If you've managed to keep hidden your secrets online during life then how do you feel about them being exposed post mortem?

More on this later...


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Eleanore

Eleanore

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