What happens to your online accounts when you are no longer able to sustain them? Retirement planning, estate planning, and heritage planning are familiar lifecycle topics. But in light of today’s automated world, one’s digital legacy should also be thoughtfully planned.
The digital information a person creates throughout a lifetime can amount to significant and valuable data (i.e., online financial and shopping account usernames and passwords, social media accounts, email accounts, etc.). And because digital legacy planning can become a monumental task as each year passes, it is important to start now and keep it updated.
Here are two ways you can kickstart your digital legacy planning today.
1.) Pack Up Your Passwords
The first and most important task in digital legacy planning is to consolidate all account logins and store them somewhere safe. Of course, manually writing and keeping account logins in a secure location like a safety deposit box is one option. But online password storage is more convenient, particularly if you change your online account passwords often.
Online password storage may sound a little scary. However, it is quite helpful if quick access by a spouse, relative, friend, attorney, or asset manager located out of town is needed at some point. As mentioned in our “Retirement Life Resources: Best Apps for Seniors” article, the 1Password app is one of the easiest and most secure online password storage apps on the market. This app allows the account owner to create one master login to manage all online accounts. Information is secured with alerts and adding a layer of protection with 256-bit advanced encryption.
2.) Declare Your Digital Heir
Once all your account logins are in one safe place, make sure to declare a digital heir. This is the person who take charge of your digital legacy when the time is right. This person will perform important tasks such as (1) hold access to your online accounts; (2) distribute information and/or continue your memory on social media; (3) ensure all your online accounts remain secure and out of the hands of hackers and scammers; (4) manage, edit, and update your online legacy as needed within obituary websites, public search portals, ancestry websites, audio and video archives, and more; and (5) close online accounts once they are no longer needed by your family or estate.
While some choose to reveal their digital heir within a last will and testament, some choose to declare their digital heir before the end of life in case of physical disability. Either way will work. However, it is important the digital heir is highly trusted and unbiased individual since duties will involve sensitive and valuable information and specified instructions.
It is important to understand that like other types of life planning, digital legacy planning is just as customizable. For example, some individuals include specific and on-going social media instructions, while some desire closing all unnecessary accounts immediately at death. Either way, packing up your passwords and declaring your digital heir today are two things that will kickstart your digital legacy planning. Initiating the digital legacy process now will provide you with the confidence and security of knowing your digital account information will be properly managed for the unforeseeable future.