Planning For Your Digital Assets After Your Death

Law Articles

Modern wills often have to address more than just bank accounts and property. Now that many people have digital accounts and online access to financial assets, those issues must be addressed. If you have digital assets and accounts, you can make a plan to have that dealt with after you die. Here are some steps to take. 

Take an Inventory of Digital Accounts

The first thing you will need to do is make a list of every online account you use. This may take some time. Each time you log on to a digital account, add that account to your list. Record a description, account number and password for each entry. Here are some examples of online accounts. 


  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Insurance
  • Retirement savings
  • Online payment accounts such as Paypal

Social Media and Websites

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Blogs
  • Ebay
  • Pandora
  • iTunes

Digital Property

  • E-books
  • Digital music
  • Digital photos

When you have finished your assessment of your digital assets and accounts, make two lists. One list should include accounts and the other should include passwords. Don't put this information on the same list because it could compromise the security of your accounts. 

Securely Store the Information

You will need to find a secure place to keep this information once you have compiled it. Make sure that two people you trust know that this list exists and where to find it if something happens to you. These people might be a spouse, an adult child, a sibling or a close friend. 

Safe Deposit Box

One solution to keeping your online account information safe is to put physical copies of your lists into safe deposit boxes at a bank. It is a good idea to take someone you trust with you to the bank when you reserve your safe deposit box and to be sure that person has access to the contents. If you die without giving someone else the right to open your safe deposit box, it can be a hassle for your survivors to get access. 

Online Storage

There are several online storage companies that will encrypt your digital information and keep it for you. Some examples of this are Password Box and Secure Safe. Websites like these allow you to keep your digital information in one place so that it can be easily accessed by the person you choose to handle your accounts after you die. 

Choose an Executor

If you have created a will, chances are that you have already chosen an executor to manage your affairs after you have died. That person will probably be in charge of accessing and distributing money in bank accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance policies. It would be helpful to provide this person with passwords to online access to these types of accounts, 

The person you have chosen as executor can also be made responsible for your digital property. You could also name a separate digital executor for these accounts. You may choose to do this because you have someone in mind who is knowledgeable about technology and understands digital property and online accounts. 

Set Up Automated Accounts

Some web based companies offer an automated account system to control what happens to an account after it is no longer in use. Some accounts will close themselves after a certain period of time has passed without you logging into your account. Some websites will email you after your account has not been used for a specific amount of time and will then carry out your instructions if you do not respond. The instructions may be to contact representatives you have chosen or to close the account. 

Leave Detailed Instructions

Decide what you want done with your digital accounts, and write this in your will or give instructions to the person taking charge of your digital accounts after your death. Be clear about how you want any money or property distributed and what you want to happen to your social media accounts. 

  • You may wish to have your Facebook page, blog or other social media page erased completely. 
  • You may wish to leave your social media open as a memorial. 
  • You may wish to have someone else carry on your blog or other online communication.

 You should also consider choosing to leave a personal message or video on your social media page saying goodbye to your friends and family. 

The laws governing digital property are still being created and changed. The important thing is that you make your wishes known and that you give someone you trust the information that person will need to be responsible for your digital assets.  For more information speak with an estate planning professional.


2 June 2015

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