Have you ever stopped to think about the size and scope of your digital footprint? On an average day, how many accounts do you log into that require a password? Do you do any banking or engage in any financial activities online? Do you store any creative work of any kind on the Cloud? Do you have social media accounts? Chances are that, if you’re like most Americans, you have a relatively sizeable digital footprint. Have you ever stopped to think about what is going to happen to this footprint in the event that you’re too ill or injured to manage it? Have you ever thought about what will happen to this footprint once you pass away?
In recent years, the concept of “digital estate planning” has understandably gained a great deal of traction. This subcategory of estate planning is primarily concerned with the access to and engagement with an individual’s online and electronic accounts in the event of their incapacitation or death. If you haven’t given serious thought to what you’d like to do with your digital accounts, intellectual property, and digital rights should you become incapacitated or pass away, it is time to start planning.
Basic Digital Estate Planning Considerations
As an experienced Sacramento estate planning lawyer – including those who practice at Yee Law Group Inc. – can confirm, it is going to be helpful to your loved ones if you draw up a comprehensive digital estate plan now and keep it up to date for the remainder of your life. While that sounds like a daunting and endlessly tiresome task, know that an attorney who devotes their practice to estate planning understands how to keep this process as straightforward and low-stress as possible.
The most critical concerns that you’ll need to mull over before drawing up your plan involve access and engagement. Who should have access to any given account and under what circumstances should they be granted that access (in the event of incapacitation or only after death)? If you are incapacitated or pass away, should any given account be shut down or will you transfer usage and engagement rights to someone? If there is intellectual property or financial assets associated with an account, who will own this property after you’ve passed away?
Thinking about a time wherein you won’t be in a position to manage your digital footprint is intimidating. But, if you want your wishes to be respected, you’ll need to work with an attorney to address these challenges.