If you are like most Americans, you probably bank online, regularly engage on social media and store family pictures in the Cloud. You likely spend a significant number of hours each week – and possibly each day – online. Every time that you go online, you contribute to your overall electronic “footprint.” And, when you’re no longer around to manage that footprint, your personal representative or your loved ones will need to take over where you left off.
Have you ever thought about the reality that, one day, everything that you do online will need to be “put in order” by either the executor of your estate or your loved ones? Have you told them how to access every one of your accounts? Have you discussed who has permission to access them and who doesn’t? Have you detailed what each account is and how it should be managed?
Addressing concerns like these is the broader purpose of digital estate planning. By crafting a digital estate plan, you will help to ensure that your wishes are clear and enforceable under the law. Additionally, you will spare your loved ones a significant amount of stress that they would have otherwise incurred if they were approaching your digital footprint with no guidance as to how to manage it.
It should be noted that this area of law is evolving rapidly. Digital estate planning wasn’t a widespread concern until several years ago, so many questions of law related to this topic are still playing out. As a result, it is going to be a good idea to seek legal guidance when crafting a digital estate plan. That way, you can benefit from up-to-date information now and can benefit from a legal professional’s guidance concerning updates in the law as it continues to evolve.