While you are creating your estate plan, you might be wondering what will happen to your digital legacy once you pass away. Your digital legacy includes all information related to your online accounts, blogs, social networking identities and digital files that will still be left on the web once you pass away.
Many of these accounts and information files cannot be left in your will, trust or other estate planning tools because you do not physically own them. The good news is that you can choose what you would like to have happen to them and leave important directions for your executor.
What Is Included In My Digital Legacy?
Social networks. A large part of your digital legacy will include any online social network accounts that you have, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterest. What you can and will do with each account will depend on the individual company. Each company has its own unique policy on what they do with deceased peoples’ accounts. Facebook, for example, can put your profile into a “memorial” status, while other social media companies simply delete or deactivate your account. In most cases, if the social media site isn’t notified of the death, it will take a while for it to register this change. You could leave instructions to your executor to post a status update or tweet alerting your friends and followers of your passing, or you could request to have certain things deleted from your account.
Blogs and licensed domains. You can also ask your executor to inform your blog readers of your death, deactivate the blog site, or archive all the posts and content. If you have a licensed domain name, you can request your executor to transfer, terminate, or continue paying for the domain.
Email accounts. Your email account status will also depend on the company’s policy. At some point after your death, your account with Yahoo, Gmail, or Microsoft will be deleted. Before this happens, you can ask your executor to delete, archive, or send emails to certain people.
Photos, music, and other personal files. Make sure you think about how your executor can access your music, photos and other digital files. Finalize what you want done with those files. You can give specific instructions to your executor, or you can leave a detailed outline of these files in your will and who can have access to them.
Financial accounts. Ensure that your executor is given clear information on how to access your financial accounts and online utilities. The contents of your bank accounts can be detailed in your will, but during the probate process your executor should receive access to these accounts in order to pay bills and finish your estate plans.