The whole world probably seems like it's gone digital in the last decade or so -- and the odds are good that there's a lot of your life contained inside some digital files as well.
However, many people forget to include digital planning when they do their estate planning. Without a proper plan, your heirs and executor could be stuck with just a password away from the access they need to everything from your bank accounts to personal photos.
Here's how to make things easier on your executor and heirs:
1. Keep a master list of your digital accounts and login information.
This includes not only access to your credit cards and online access to your bank accounts but things like your gmail account, Amazon account and Paypal. It also includes access to things like Facebook and Photobucket.
Make certain that you put the information in a spot that's known to your heirs or executor -- like in the safety deposit box where your will is stored.
2. Name a power of attorney and executor for your digital assets.
This specific document can make it easier for the individual you name to be granted formal control of your accounts. That could be particularly important for things like social media accounts -- which can become a source of either joy or pain to your heirs. You want to name someone who will handle the issue with diplomacy and tact.
3. Give specific instructions on what you want done with your accounts.
If you have a Facebook account, for example, your digital executor can choose to memorialize your profile -- but that may upset some members of your family who want to see it taken down. If you leave instructions, your executor will have an easier time following your wishes and can show your relatives that your bidding is being done.
You also want to make provisions for things like copies of online photos -- many people automatically upload photos taken with their cellphone. Those precious memories can easily be shared if your executor knows that's what you desire.
Preparing your will always requires a lot of thought -- and digital assets are no exception. However, your heirs will be grateful that you took the time.