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Estate Planning for your Digital Assets

May 7, 2018

When preparing an Estate Plan, most people think about planning for their physical and monetary assets. But did you know, you can also plan ahead for what you would like done with your digital assets? That includes things such as your social media accounts, passwords, video streaming services and so forth. Here is a list of some of the most common digital and social media assets that you may want to plan for.

 

Facebook

Facebook lets you plan for your passing by giving you the option to name another individual to manage your account.  After you die, your account can be turned into a digital memorial. To do this, you need to name someone as your Legacy Contact.  Your Legacy Contact can write a pinned post for your profile. This might be a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service. They can also respond to new friend requests, update your profile picture or request the removal of your account.

 

The process of naming a Legacy Contact is simple; Click on the drop-down menu to the far right on the blue header and select ‘Settings’. The bottom option on this page select ‘Manage Account’. Click the edit button on the right to make changes.  When the menu opens, you will see the option to name a Legacy Contact.  Simply enter the name of the person you would like to have manage your account after your passing in the ‘Choose a friend’ field. Note, they must have their own Facebook account to be named.  After you enter the name, click ‘add’. You will also be able to enter a brief message that Facebook will send to your contact notifying them that they’ve been named as your Legacy Contact and explaining what this means.

 

It is possible that you don’t want your Facebook account to exist after you pass away. The process to request this option is similar to above. But instead of adding a friend, you will click the link to request account deletion. Someone will still need to notify Facebook of your death. In this situation, all of your info, photos, and posts will be permanently deleted after your passing. You can learn more about legacy accounts or managing a memorialized profile by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/help/1568013990080948.

 

Google

Google Apps include Gmail, Photos, YouTube, Calendar, Google Drive, Docs, Calendar, along with quite a few others. Luckily, your Google ID account covers them all. Google helps you in planning for your estate matters is by giving the option to name up to 10 people as your Inactive Account Managers.  Should your Google account become inactive for a period of time, specified by you, Google will notify your Inactive Account Managers.

 

 

To set up your Inactive account managers, sign in to your Google account, click on the ‘My Account’ button and then click on ‘Personal Info & Privacy’.  Scroll down until you find Assign an Account Trustee and click ‘Change this Setting’. From here you will be taken to a new page where you start to make your plan. Click the Start button and Google will guide you through the process. You can set the length for the period of inactivity, choose who to notify, give permissions for what part of your Google account they will have control over, write an instructional email that will be sent to your manager, or decide if your inactive account should be deleted.

 

Remember, if you have more than one Google account you will need to make instructions for each account.

 

LinkedIn

You cannot name a Legacy manager for your LinkedIn account, however a friend or loved one can contact LinkedIn to request the remove of your account due to death. They will be required to provide

  • Your Name

  • Your LinkedIn URL

  • Your email address linked to that account

  • Your date of death

  • A link to an obituary or relevant news article

  •  

Here is a link to the LinkedIn help page:  https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/ask/TS-RDMLP?lang=en

 

Apple ID

If you own an iPhone, iPad or iMac, you also have an Apple ID.  Unfortunately, Apple does not have a plan ahead method to disable your account, so you will want to make sure to include instructions for your executor to contact Apple to close your account. Your executor will need your Apple ID, Email, Password, and Death Certificate.

 

Microsoft

Microsoft won’t transfer your data after you have passed away. With this in mind, you may want to leave your account login details and password with someone that you trust to remove any data that may be needed. Family members can close your account, but they too will need to provide the pertinent data and death certificate.

 

Passwords and other Online Accounts

The next part of your plan will be deciding what to do with your other electronic documents, records, and accounts, along with the corresponding list of usernames, passwords and PINs. Currently, there is no standard way to keep track of your digital assets that ensures family members, executors and your lawyer can have access to them after you die.  We have assembled a list of ideas that may work for your situation.

 

Start by making a list of all your important digital accounts, including the corresponding access details such as log-in names, passwords, and PINs. You can write out the list, but this becomes cumbersome if you need to make changes in the future. A simple spreadsheet or word document also works and is easily updated. There are also a few cloud-based data and password storage services. Remember though, there is an inherent risk of data breach with these types of services.

 

Some of the items you might have on this list include:

  • Password Managers

  • Email Accounts

  • Computers Passwords

  • Cellphone and Tablet info

  • Banking and Financial accounts

  • Online cloud storage & file sharing (Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, Box)

  • Digital subscriptions (ITunes, Netflix, Spotify, Xbox, PlayStation, Steam, Sirius XM, etc.)

  • Social Media Accounts (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter)

  • Payment storage (PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay)

  • Shopping (eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Costco)

  • Web Hosting/Blogging sites (Webley, WordPress, Go Daddy, Wix)

  • Rewards Programs (Air Miles, Ticketmaster, Aeroplan)

  • Messenger Services (Skype, WhatsApp, Snap Chat)

  • Safety deposit boxes and their locations

  • A list of people to be notified of your passing and their contact info (employer, neighbours, etc.)

 

Storing Your Passwords

Once your list is compiled, you’ll need to store the information somewhere safe but accessible. Options for how you can safely store your personal data include using a safe in your home. It’s an easy place to for you to access when you need to update and make changes. Ensure you can leave the combination to your safe with someone you trust for access to after your passing.

Be cautious of using a safety deposit box as many banks will not allow access to your box until after your will has been probated. Chances are this information will be needed before your executor can probate the Will.  Another option is to use a password splitting plan. You can leave a list of accounts and user names with one person and a corresponding list of passwords with another. This option is more complicated when you want to make updates.

 

Some people choose to appoint a Digital Executor. This could be a tech-savvy family member or friend who will be responsible for settling your digital matters or assisting your executor with the digital portion of your estate.

 

If you have questions about your digital assets, or would like assistance with any part of your Estate Plan contact Summit Legal Group. Phone: 587-356-0356  Email: info@summitlegalgroup.ca

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