We are increasingly relying on digital access and storage to manage our lives. It’s important for everyone involved in your estate to accept this and be knowledgeable about digital assets and how to manage them. As you begin to organize this digital information remember the many websites where you’ve left a digital footprint and how difficult it can be to keep records of all the locations.
You could be looking for:
- documents and websites containing information about debt, such as your mortgage, credit cards, loans, insurance plans, investment accounts, retirement accounts, college-saving accounts, trusts or other estate planning documents;
- digital files stored in cloud storage services such as DropBox, iCloud, or Google Drive;
- files, programs, music, photos, videos, and browsing history on your computer’s hard drive and tablet;
- apps, call and email history, music, photos and videos, location data, and other contents on your smartphone;
- files and programs on removable media, such as a thumb or flash drives or other external hard drives;
- music, playlists, or data on digital music players;
- books or files on e-readers; and/or
- photos or videos on digital cameras.
Physical storage devices, such as hard drives or smartphones can be damaged, so you may want to back up files in other locations or print hard copies.
You may also want to back up data stored in the cloud to a local computer or storage device in case you lose internet access.
While it’s difficult enough for you to keep track of and manage these digital assets, imagine someone coming in after your death to sort it all out. It would be a great benefit for them if you would accumulate and organize all this information before such time that you were unable to guide them.
While it may take days for you to do this, it could take months for your executor and/or family to sort it all out if you don’t. It would help if your executor was knowledgeable on digital data.
There may be software or an app that may be appropriate to your situation. It can list the type and location of all of your digital assets and documents, any account numbers, usernames, and passwords necessary.
You can also buy online services, called Digital Archives, that will do this while you are alive.
A low tech option, called a Digital Assets Memorandum is also available. It is simply a document that lists all of your digital assets and their location.
- Documents To Organize And Share. everplans website. Accessed:August 12, 2019.
- Digital Estate Planning: How To Organize All Your Digital Property and Assets. everplans website. Accessed:
- Haman E. Where Should I Keep My Last Will (and other documents). legalzoom website. Accessed: August 5, 2019.
- Organizing and Keeping Files. Hurley Elder Care Law website. Published: May 6, 2019. Accessed: August 14, 2019.
- Morrow S. Where to Store a Last Will. legalzoom website. Accessed: August 13, 2019.
- State-specific Digital Estate Planning Laws. everplans website. Accessed: August 16, 2019
- The Safest And Most Practical Places To Store Your Will. everplans website. Accessed: August 14, 2019.