Cell phone. Many of our digital assets reside on our phones.

Why is it important to understand the large and complex network of digital footprints we create in today’s digital age? Because a large part of our lives happen online. From online banking and investments to email correspondence and social media profiles —our digital estate plan is a very important part of our overall estate plan.

If you don’t account for these assets in your estate plan, it can lead to complications. This can  include financial losses, identity theft, and emotional distress for your loved ones.

In this blog, I’d like to explore with you the potential digital footprint dilemma — as well as the importance of including digital assets in your estate plan. I will touch upon crucial elements such as password management, selecting a digital executor, protection of your intellectual property, and social media considerations.  

Password management is a key component of your digital estate plan

Password Management: Unlocking the Gates of Access

A  key to digital estate planning is having a strategic way to manage your passwords. Traditionally, we secure our digital lives with passwords and PINs, which provide us access to our accounts.

When making  your estate plan, consider creating a comprehensive list of your passwords. That way,  your chosen  executor (or beneficiaries) can easily  access your online assets. However, having a balance between security and accessibility is crucial — because sharing sensitive information comes with its own set of risks.  

 Also, think about using tools that keep your passwords safe. These tools lock up and save passwords, letting only the right people get in. This simplifies the process for your digital executor.

Having  a balance between security and easy accessibility means you need to  educate your digital executor on the best practices, like two-factor authentication. When you include these steps, you make it stronger and safer for people to gain access to your  digital world. This helps things move smoothly and protects important information.      

Two paths are given. Making the right choice of executor for your digital estate plan is important.

The Importance of Choosing Your Executor

With so much of our lives happening online, it’s crucial that your executor or trustee is aware of your digital life. This includes things like your social media, passwords, and online accounts.

Your executor needs to be good with technology, make smart decisions, and really understand what’s important to you. It’s not just about protecting your online things; it’s about keeping your online identity and your legacy safe.

So, when you’re thinking about estate planning, remember that the people you appoint have real responsibilities and should be trustworthy and organized. You’ll want someone who can smoothly handle the complex nature of it all, making sure your wishes are respected in the ever-changing digital world.

Notebook in front of laptop. It's important to make note of your online passwords in your digital estate plan

Cataloging Online Accounts

When you’re setting up your estate plan, make sure to list all your online accounts – everything from emails and social media to photos and streaming services. Each account holds a piece of your digital life.

Take a moment to jot down these accounts and give clear instructions on what you want to happen to them when you’re not around anymore. This not only makes things easier for the person handling your digital world, but also keeps your private info safe from the wrong hands.

With all the data breaches and identity theft going on, it’s crucial to address privacy concerns in your plan. Clearly spell out how you want your personal info handled and stress the importance of following privacy rules. This way, you’re not only safeguarding your online life, but also making sure your legacy stays intact.

Phone with social media icon showing. Your digital estate plan should plan for what to do with these accounts when you pass away

Social Media Considerations: Crafting Your Digital Legacy

Social media is a big part of our lives – think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like. It’s essential to factor it into the bigger picture when planning for the future. These platforms hold onto memories, conversations, and feelings that make up your digital story.

When you’re planning your estate, it’s good to think about what happens to these accounts. Some platforms have ways to remember you, as in Facebook memorialization options —while others let you delete the account. Make sure to write down what you’d prefer in your estate plan, so your digital legacy reflects what you want.

In today’s digital age, your online presence is such a  crucial part of your legacy. Social media platforms truly  capture the essence of your life.  When diving into estate planning, don’t forget – whether you decide to keep or bid farewell to your accounts, weaving your social media preferences into your estate plan ensures that your wishes are carried out.

Digital code. Some digital assets have monetary value such as cryptocurrency

Digital Assets with Monetary Value

Apart from their sentimental value, some digital assets might actually be worth money. Investments in cryptocurrency and online businesses can have financial consequences.

When you’re working on your estate plan, it’s crucial to figure out how to handle or distribute these assets. Give clear instructions on how to access and transfer ownership of these assets to prevent potential losses for the people inheriting them. 

Cryptocurrency investments and online businesses can be affected by changes in the market. Make sure to clearly lay out the steps for transferring ownership or selling these digital assets, and consider the tax implications.

By providing detailed and current instructions, you’re protecting your beneficiaries from potential financial losses and giving them the knowledge to make smart decisions with these valuable digital holdings.

Laptop with document on the screen. Creative assets must also be protected in your digital estate plan

Protecting Intellectual Property

If you’re a creative soul and you’re  into writing, art, music, or making content —it’s super important to protect the rights to what you’ve produced.  Your digital collection probably has copyrighted works and trademarks.

When you’re working on your estate plan, make sure to spell out exactly what you want to happen with these creations – who owns them, how they’re used, or if they can be licensed. In the digital space, creators really need to take charge and actively look out for their rights to what they make.

Securing your creative assets online is a must, and it’s just as vital to stay up-to-date on the ever-evolving copyright laws and intellectual property rights. The digital content creation scene is always changing, with new platforms and distribution channels popping up regularly.

Staying informed allows you to adjust your protection strategies accordingly. It’s a wise move to consult with legal professionals specializing in intellectual property for a comprehensive understanding of the legal nuances tied to your creations. Taking an active role in the legal side of your creative pursuits ensures the preservation of your artistic legacy.

How Schroeder Larsen Law Can Help You

Photo of Kirsten Schroeder Larsen

Planning for your digital legacy can be a bit tricky, and it takes know-how in both the legal and tech sides of things. At Schroeder Larsen Law, I’m all about creating detailed estate plans that cover every part of your life, including your digital world.

My experienced team is here to help you figure out and secure your digital assets. We’ll make sure your wishes are crystal clear and legally solid. We understand that it tells the story of your life. So, with us, you’ve got a reliable partner focused on keeping your legacy intact in the digital age.

Get in touch today to make sure your loved ones have a smooth ride in this ever-changing world.

Prefer to chat on the phone or over email? No problem.

Email: kirsten@schroederlarsenlaw.com 

Phone: 816-550-0644