With 2015 now in full swing, you may want to review your estate planning documents (or getting started on estate planning if you have not already done so). When you look things over, consider whether or not the executor of your estate will be able to access all of your important password-protected information.
This, of course, includes passwords and account numbers for your various financial accounts. But it could also include login information for your social media accounts, email and even your computer itself. It may sound cheesy, but estate planning should include plans for your “digital estate” as well.
In the case of a social media profile (such as a Facebook account), closing down the account is easier for your executor to do if he or she has the password. And for many people, an email account can be a decades-long accumulation of personal correspondence. Just as family members used to find letters in boxes in the attic, they may now enjoy reading old emails. If you don’t leave a way to access your email account, all of that information could be lost if the account gets shut down.
Providing access to your digital estate could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet with usernames and passwords for the various sites you visit. If you keep track of your passwords using password-management software, you only need to give your executor access to the master password.
Finally, don’t forget about leaving a password to your computer itself (if access to your computer is password protected). Just as letters have gone digital, so too have family pictures and other items of great sentimental value.
If you have yet to start the estate planning process, there’s no time like the present. And while you do so, make sure to plan your digital estate as well.
Source: Mainstreet.com, “Why Your Estate Planning Should Include Your Facebook Page As Well,” Jason Notte, Jan. 7, 2015