When most people think about their estate plan, they think about who will get the house, custody of the children, and their personal effects. In today’s modern society, another consideration for people planning their estates is how to handle their digital estate? With social media accounts, emails, digital subscriptions, online investment tools, and more, it is important to also appoint a digital executor for your estate.
What is a Digital Executor?
A digital executor is responsible for handling all aspects of your digital assets when you die. This includes closing accounts, paying any debts or maintenance fees, and ensuring that any digital assets are distributed according to your wishes in your estate. A digital executor does not replace a traditional executor to an estate, although they can be the same person.
Benefits of Having a Digital Executor
A digital executor can assist with a number of items in your digital estate, depending on what you would like that person to do for you. Some common tasks performed by a digital executor include the following:
- Archiving and distributing personal files, photos, videos, and other content created
- Deleting files, folders, and erasing hard drives
- Maintaining certain online accounts and potentially continuing to pay for services
- Closing certain online accounts or turning social media accounts into memorial accounts
- Canceling subscription services or any other accounts that must be paid for
- Transferring any accounts or information to heirs
- Collecting and transferring any available credits or money in digital accounts to heirs
- Transferring any income-producing digital items to heirs
- Informing online communities and social media friends of your passing
How to Name a Digital Executor
Similar to a traditional executor, a digital executor can be appointed in your will. If you do not wish to completely revise your existing estate plan, a digital executor can also be added in a codicil to an existing plan. Try to create a comprehensive list for your digital executor of any and all accounts, sites, files, folders, etc. along with usernames and passwords to make the process as simple as possible.
Some states do not recognize the legal authority of a digital executor, but even in those states you should still consider creating a digital estate plan. You can list the digital executor as a co-executor to the estate and divvy up the responsibilities between the co-executors as digital and non-digital tasks. You should also inform your estate planning attorney of your desire to have a digital executor regardless of whether your state recognizes their legal authority because your lawyer will know the best way to incorporate this into your estate plan.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Now
Christopher B. Johnson, located in Pasadena, California, has years of experience in all aspects of estate planning, and works with clients from all walks of life to create estate planning tools that reflect their needs and those of their beneficiaries. To request an immediate consultation, contact him today at (877) 755-9178.