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What happens if you keep on “living” online after you die?

| August 21, 2019
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Having your social media accounts stay active after you’re gone isn’t such a big deal, is it?

Having an executed will, a living will, power of attorney, trusts, and other documents in place are of course the biggest deal when creating your end-of-life plan. Unfortunately, a plan for your digital assets is not always included in typical end-of-life documents.

You may not think it's a big deal, but what about your loved ones?

Imaging random people on your Facebook page continuing to wish you “Happy Birthday” for years to come, tagging you in posts, and sharing updates without realizing you’re gone. This can be upsetting for your loved ones—a constant reminder of their loss and prolonging their grieving process.

Writing a digital estate plan can eliminate the pain and uncertainty of heirs guessing what you would have preferred to be done with your personal online content. Having all of your household online payment account information in one central location would be a small blessing to your spouse who may need to take over bill paying duties.

What happens to all of the photos, messages, and memories that you have posted to your social media pages over the years? Do you want to have your page deleted and downloaded to an archive that can be given to loved ones—serving as a time-capsule digital journal? Do you want your page to stay up for a limited period of time to allow friends and family to have a space to grieve, reminisce, and share stories?

On the business side, digital estate planning is just as important. If you set up an email account for a business under your name and you die, current laws make it difficult to transfer that email account to the business or anyone else.

Giving a “digital executor” access all of your account information ensures there’s a dedicated person and process to carry out your digital legacy wishes.

Did you know the average American has $55,000 in digital assets*?

These assets are not necessarily ones that can be bought or sold. This dollar amount represents the average monetary value these assets can be worth to a consumer and the people who love them. That’s definitely something worth planning for!

There are real financial risks in not having a digital estate plan.

There have been instances of individuals who have passed away, and due to their family not being able to access their accounts to inform the proper authority or shut the accounts down, they have been hacked and credit card data and money stolen. Just as you take precautions to protect your online identity now, it is just as important to pass that task on to a digital executor to keep your digital assets protected for your heirs.

Take these steps today to secure your digital legacy:

1. List all of your digital assets and how to access each one.

• Computing hardware, such as computers, external hard drives or flash drives, tablets, smartphones, digital music players, e-readers, digital cameras, and other digital devices

• Any information or data that is stored electronically, whether online, in the cloud, or on a physical device

• Any online accounts, such as email and communications accounts, social media accounts, shopping accounts, photo and video sharing accounts, video gaming accounts, online storage accounts, and websites and blogs that you may manage

• Domain names

• Intellectual property, including copyrighted materials, trademarks, and any code you may have written and own

Remember, because some passwords are case case sensitive, be sure to accurately record them.

Our office has an all-in-one Survivor’s Guide available for download that you can use to easily collect and store all of your digital asset information as well as all other important financial account information

2. Decide what you want done with these assets.

Write a letter of instruction that explains how your heirs can access all your digital accounts and what you want done with them.

Delete? Transfer account ownership to a spouse? This information eliminates much frustration for your estate’s executor as they work to transfer your digital assets, pay off debts, and assisting the estate planning attorney locate financial accounts for distribution to heirs.

3. Name a digital executor.

4. Store this information in a secure-but-accessible location.

An important contact to consider sharing your digital estate plan with is your financial advisor. Oftentimes, they work closely with your family and the other estate distribution professionals to ensure your wishes are followed. Having a copy of your current digital estate plan on file as a backup is important in case circumstances change.

We at Treece Financial Group, take our duty to stay with our clients until the end and always work in their best interests very seriously. You can feel secure that tight controls are in place with Treece Financial Group to protect the safety and security of your sensitive data. Our security requirements include computer encryption, firewall and anti-virus protection, and even the use of a cross-hatched paper shredder to protect your data from prying eyes.

5. If possible, make it legal.

Consider using a legal advance document that lets you inform your family of your final wishes — including the access of your digital assets.

Click here to learn more ways to leave your loved ones a well-planned and thoughtful legacy—digital and otherwise.

*Kiplinger:https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C032-S014-how-to-protect-your-digital-assets.html

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