Digital security has never been so important or perhaps so easy. You can unlock your phone with your fingerprint or your face. You can use a password manager to store all your login credentials behind a single master password. And you can secure many online accounts with two-factor authentication (where a website sends a one-time code to your phone). But all that security comes at a cost when you die or become incapacitated. If you haven’t planned ahead, your loved ones could find themselves shut out of your digital accounts. And that could cause problems ranging from the trivial (their losing access to your Netflix watchlist) to the tragic (their losing access to your family photos on Flickr). They may not even know which financial or retail accounts you have, since so many companies encourage customers to sign up for email delivery of statements.
Welcome to the new frontier of digital estate planning.
Fortunately, there are three steps you can take to ensure your loved ones can access your digital assets once you’re gone. Here’s an overview:
- Create an Inventory. One way to understand digital assets is to think of a digital photo stored on your computer. The computer is a tangible, physical asset; the photo itself is a digital asset. Some digital assets have actual monetary value, such as a cryptocurrency account or a popular Etsy storefront. Some simply allow access to assets that have monetary value, such as login credentials for an online bank account. And some have sentimental value, such as online photos.
- Organize Your Credentials. Make sure all your login credentials are recorded in a single, secure place your heirs and other loved ones can find when you’re gone. If you save all your passwords with an app like LastPass, Dashlane, or RoboForm—and configure it to update changed passwords automatically—only a master password will be needed to access all your credentials. If you don’t trust digital solutions, you can maintain the list on paper or on your computer. But regular updates are a challenge, as is finding a secure yet accessible place to store the list.
- Name a Digital Fiduciary. It’s important to name a digital fiduciary or executor in your will, someone who will manage the digital assets for your estate. Even if you aren’t ready to name a digital fiduciary yet, it makes sense to take advantage of tools offered by Facebook and Google. If nothing else, your heirs will be able to shut down your Facebook account so people don’t get birthday reminders or friend suggestions years after you’re gone.
You can find the full article on Next Avenue.