Our lives are ever more wired. We have devices, passwords, and bits of data coming to define us in ways both personal and financial. It would seem that there should be clearly defined legal steps to take for the management of our digital estates in the event of incapacity and death.
Since it would seem only logical (let alone practical) to make legal plans for the management and succession of our digital estates, what is one to do without a clearly defined body of law on the subject?
There is a patchwork of laws in some places, and some services have thought ahead to help those planning their estates.
Nevertheless, the burden inevitably falls on the planners and their loved ones to really come to terms with those important digital assets, whether personal-social (a Facebook account) or downright valuable (a bank account or even a registered domain name).
The first step in planning your digital estate is to recognize the need, whether you are in Overland Park or elsewhere.
Thereafter, consider the following four step process outlined in a recent Morningstar article aptly titled “Do You Have a Plan for Your Digital 'Estate'?”:
1. Do a fire drill: if you lose your electronic assets, or if someone takes them away or if a loved one can never lose them again (and so on and so forth), then what is lost? To what would I want a loved one to have access?
2. Take an inventory: list your accounts, [securely] document the passwords, and make your heirs aware of your inventory ... and where it is kept.
3. Back it up: create a backup of any digital assets you can, whether cloud based, locally stored, or otherwise.
4. Put your plan into writing: if it is not written down and available, then it is not a "plan" at all, but rather a "hope." And that is a risky strategy at best.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: Morningstar (October 3, 2013) “Do You Have a Plan for Your Digital 'Estate'?”