Nothing's Certain Except Death and Taxes, Right?
Let's lighten things up and discuss managing your online affairs after you pass away because having a plan for your digital estate is more important than you think.
Downer though it may be, "digital estate planning" is something that not many people even think about. But consider this: an executor of your estate will probably need access to your financial accounts, and going online may save him or her a lot of time and effort in carrying out your wishes. You may also want someone to administer your social media accounts after you're gone.
Here are four steps for posthumously taking care of your online business:
Step 1: Have a comprehensive list of passwords for your online accounts.
Apart from digital estate planning, this is probably something you should do for yourself now. We all know how difficult it is to (safely) remember and maintain different passwords for all our accounts. Password management programs, such as 1Password, Dashlane and LastPass, store your login information for every website and service you use. They then generate complex, secure passwords for each site, but require you to remember just one "master" password.
Step 2: See that your executor can get your account/password list.
This could be a little tricky to do in a safe and secure manner. After all, in the wrong hands, this information could be devastating to you. Since a master password won't need to change more than a couple of times a year, the best of course of action might be to write it down and store it in a safety deposit box with your will.
Step 3: Make it clear in your will, that the executor should have access to your accounts.
It probably wouldn't come up, but just in case, naming the digital executor in your will should protect him or her from accusations of fraud or other legal questions. Better safe than sorry.
Step 4: Spell out your wishes for your online legacy.
Your financial accounts will probably be closed in due course, but what about your Facebook page or Twitter account or LinkedIn profile? Would you like for contacts to keep you among their "friends" where they could continue visiting your page ... or would you rather it be disabled immediately? Your family may not automatically know what you would have preferred, so express your wishes in your will.
We know it's never fun to think about these things, but once you have your plan in place it's done, and you won't have to think about it again. Then when your time does come, the people you care about -- and who care about you -- will have one more reason to appreciate your thoughtfulness.