When a loved one has passed, there are many details and arrangements to be made. In decades past, most things like wills and financial forms were kept in a paper file
In today’s digital world, however, we have the added difficulty of tracking down passwords and pin numbers, as well as managing the deceased’s online financial and social accounts.
The team at Miller Funeral & Cremation Society of Texas explores the importance of creating a digital will and its benefits to you and your loved ones.
What’s a Digital Will?
You might think of a will as a document that outlines what you want to have happen to your Earthly possessions after you pass away. A digital will is also a document that protects you, but it includes both your online presence as well as accounts you might have on the web.
This includes not only your social media presence, like Facebook and Twitter, but also covers your music and media accounts, shopping accounts, online bank accounts, investments, and other subscriptions. Essentially, the digital will serves to safeguard your accounts and online property rights by designating a person or persons to be responsible for these accounts.
How Is It Created?
If you are already creating a last will and testament with a trusted estate lawyer, you can include your digital will and name the executor(s) of your online property. This may include intellectual property, which is the information, documentation, photographs, etc. associated with your name online.
If you choose to create your own digital will, it will need to consider the following:
- Make a list of your online accounts and their passwords. This will include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, email, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, bank accounts, paid subscriptions to online magazines and journals, personal website, blog, and professional sites like LinkedIn and online portfolios. (You may be surprised by the sheer number of accounts you have, as well as all of the usernames and passwords you’ve forgotten!).
- Determine what can be transferred. If you own the personal rights of use of a license for services or a product, they may or maynot be transferable. It’s important to outline ownership of products or services that can be used by a family member or loved one, in the event of your passing.
- Appoint a digital executor for products or services that can be transferred. Determine who can manage whatever services or products in question that can be transferred and make a plan in your will how that will be handed over (including relevant usernames and passwords) and your wishes for their use.
- Maintain a spreadsheet of online services and corresponding information. It is easy to forget a subscription or two, or a password, if you do not have a repository of these. Maintain usernames and passwords in an Excel spreadsheet or database of your choosing so that they can be easily managed later.
The Rising Importance of a Digital Will
While virtually everyone is handling multiple aspects of our lives online, the laws regarding online and intellectual property is still in its infancy. This is why empowering yourself by outlining your wishes pertaining to accounts, services, and web-based products is crucial for your estate planning.
One’s digital assets also go beyond the monetary. Imagine, if you will, a very common scenario of social media sharing when a loved one passes. Can you imagine the heartbreak if someone posted on your Facebook or Instagram about your death, when not all of those who have yet to be informed of your passing sees this in an impersonal, sometimes shocking, way? To avoid such situations, having a point person who is quick to manage information online is vital.
Facebook and many other social mediums is catching up by helping grieving loved ones deal with the deceased’s online presence.
Ultimately, we live in a digital world and this shows no signs of reverting back to the entirely personal, offline considerations. Much of our lives and memories are stored online, and your footprint beyond your life will continue.