During the summer of 2022, Forbes Magazine printed an article entitled “New Estate Planning Rule: Don’t Leave an Electronic Mess.” In a nutshell, this is the key concept behind the evolving area of the law known as digital estate planning.
Most Americans now spend a significant portion of their time online. Every time that you write an email, sign in to an account or upload something to the Cloud, you leave a new piece of your overall electronic footprint behind. Digital estate planning involves ensuring that someone can properly manage the footprint that you leave behind when you’re no longer able to control your accounts, digital assets and intellectual property.
All adults need to be proactive about digital estate planning
Just as you need to make a will so that the state doesn’t control how your assets are distributed after your death, you need to craft a digital estate plan to ensure that your wishes are both made clear and are ultimately honored in the event of your death or long-term incapacitation due to illness or injury.
Take a few moments to list every single account you access online that is password protected. Then list any financial, sentimental or intellectual property assets that can only be managed online. Do you know how you want them to be handled in the event of your death or incapacitation? Do you know who you will want to have access to things and who you don’t want to access them? When you craft your digital estate plan, don’t forget to indicate how your chosen executor will go about gaining access to these accounts and assets.
By approaching the task of digital estate planning proactively, you’ll better ensure that you don’t leave an electronic mess for your loved ones and that your wishes concerning your digital footprint are both honored and respected.