Imagine if you ceased to be today; what digital value would be lost? Family photographs, digital media, loyalty points… all these are as much a part of your Estate as a car or a house, but surprisingly few people make provisions for digital estate planning while they are alive.
With so much of our lives taking up space on hard drives, on mobile devices and even in ‘the cloud’, it’s more important than ever to remember the value of our digital Estate when we’re making future plans. After all, you’ve invested time and money in collecting all these valuable items and memories, so why shouldn’t you share them with your loved ones too?
How to create a digital Estate plan
It’s a modern problem, but at the same time as you’re setting up trusts for your kids, naming Executor(s) of the Estate and drawing up your Will, you should also be forming a digital Estate plan too or at least looking through a guide to your digital assets. Here’s how to take care of it painlessly:
1. List all your digital assets and how to access them
This is going to be a much bigger job than you realise. Leaving a digital legacy has now become an extensive job for most of us. Of course, some things will jump straight to mind, such as your burgeoning Dropbox folder with all the family photos in, or your extensive collection of Stephen King e-books. But as you start to dig, you’ll realise there is much, much more to this than you thought. Think about:
- Banking, credit cards, store cards, savings, PayPal and other money matters
- Loyalty points, discount coupons, store credit, websites you have credit with
- Entertainment, music and film purchases, e-books, image purchases, digital box sets
- Websites and blogs you run, domain names you own, intellectual property, trademarks
- Physical devices such as PCs, phones, tablets, e-readers, music players etc.
Once you know what’s out there of yours, you’ll need to make sure you know all the usernames and passwords, and who to pass that information on to.
2. Figure out what you want to happen to each resource
No doubt some things you’ll just want deleted to ensure your details are not vulnerable to attack (and to stop that photo of you at the office Christmas party getting out). But others might be nice to share with your friends and family after you have passed. Whether its several gigabytes of family snaps or the complete digital box set of Game of Thrones, this is something that you’ve invested in and should be allowed to pass on after your death.
Some of your digital Estate may not be so simple to figure out, particularly if you have revenue generating streams that will continue to produce even after you’ve gone. For example, if you run an online store, would you prefer to shut it down immediately, or wait until everything’s sold? If you have a blog that generates advertising income, will you pass it on to a loved one, attempt to sell it as a going concern or just close it down right away? Digital Estate plans can, and should, be created with extensive consideration of all your online activities.
3. Store this information in a secure, accessible place
You need to keep things like usernames and passwords super-safe, but you also need to be able to pass them on to your executor when the time comes for plans to be put into action. There are a couple of choices for how to do this:
- Ask your solicitor to keep this with your will
- Keep the information in a locked, fireproof cabinet or safe
Wherever you choose to store your plan, it’s important that the crucial people know that you’ve made it. Tell a couple of trustworthy souls, maybe your partner or children, where the plan is, so that they can read it and carry out your wishes when the time comes.
Why consider a digital Executor?
Of course, you could use a company like Lexikin to manage your digital Estate plan. Not only will we keep it safe and secure until the time comes, but we will also pass on your wishes contained within your plan to your Executor(s), taking the pressure off your loved ones. A death comes with a lot of administration which, on top of the grief, can be just too much for some people.
Leave your loved ones a parting gift by letting the professionals handle all of their digital tidying up. Talk to Lexikin today about what a digital Executor could do for you.