eClosure Guide to Digital Estate Planning

To this very day, many developed countries have failed to account for the importance of appropriately securing their online presence. With over half of a nation’s population dying without a will, and nothing in the law to outline the procedures, the individual’s assets may be distributed wrongly.

As technology evolves, so does the element of estate planning. Not only must physical assets be accounted for, one’s digital presence holds net worth and must also be evaluated as an asset. The importance of digital estate planning has skyrocketed due to the intangible wealth of digital assets. What are digital assets? To lay the foundation, digital assets are any building blocks to an individual’s online legacy. This includes all content submitted to the cloud platforms such as passwords, usernames, and photos.

Your Digital Footprint

The ability for social network platforms to track one’s digital footprints has stirred controversy. To that one’s digital legacy is safely removed or preserved is thus essential, to prevent mishaps that one can do with another’s personal identity.

I’d like you to have a moment to think – How would you like your digital assets to be handled after your passing? Who will you give post-mortem access for your online accounts to?

With the ever fluctuation and static Facebook privacy policies, it may be difficult for anyone, even authorized personnel, to gain access to an individual’s account.

As of 2014, lawyers have been increasing litigation in order to preach to the ‘best interests of the public’, the importance of closing of online profiles for deceased family members. Usually obliterated in the minds of an individual, many digital assets including Paypal and eBay accounts continue to hold ties with online credit information, and with no surprise, it is also through these accounts that fraud crimes commence.

How to prepare your Digital Estate Plan?

Digital Estate Planning Step 1 - Understand asset value

1. Understand Asset Value

Knowing what is considered as an asset will become valuable to you. Take some time to consult reliable online sources or solicitors if need be, to ensure that you have sufficient understanding of what has precedence to becoming an asset.

Digital Estate Planning Step 2 - Identify your assets

2. Identify Your Assets

With the knowledge of what is or isn’t an asset, write a list with the most valuable assets you have under your possession. These should be the things that are worth holding through generations on end.

Digital Estate Planning Step 3 - Evaluate the assets

3. Evaluate The Assets

This can be done professionally or by oneself. Knowing how much the assets are worth can assist your decision for identifying your key recipients.

Digital Estate Planning Step 4 - Choose key players

4. Choose Key Players

This stage requires personal discretion. List down all the key players. Keep in mind that the recipient should be younger and most likely to outlive you.

Digital Estate Planning Step 5 - Insert stopgaps

5. Insert Stopgaps

Having more than one potential recipient of your assets is a ‘must’. With a back-up person to the asset will prevent any future distribution problems.

Digital Estate Planning Step 6 - Keep tweaking

6. Keep Tweaking

The estate plan is something that needs to be constantly updated as one become in possession of more assets or perhaps, altered in accordance to someone’s death. The Government recommends a yearly revision.

Where to Store Your Digital Estate Plan

So what are you going to do with that Digital Estate Plan of yours now? Here are some viable ways to store it.

Write it in a Will

The Will acts as a formal warrant. It will contain specific clauses to allow the testator’s executors to access the digital assets. The act of leaving explicit instructions to how the testator would like their digital assets and accounts managed will significantly assist the legal procedures.

Include the eWishes Statement in your Will

The testator’s desire may simply be to close all their online accounts and emails – and regardless of the acquisition to their password to do so, they just need to make a list of the online assets. eWishes, a digital estate planning service created by eClosure team, generates a statement for you, outlining the online accounts you would like to be handled after your death. The service is completely free.

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