Digital Estate Plan: What Is It and Why You Should Have One

Freshly back from my professional organizers conference, I couldn’t wait to share with you some lessons learned, especially the importance of creating a Digital Estate Plan.  

What is a Digital Estate Plan?  

A Digital Estate Plan is a paper or electronic document(s) that centralizes in one place all of your digital information including: 

A visual web of all transactions (think about your accounts that automatically get paid out of your bank account) 

List of digital accounts/memberships along with login names and passwords 

List of all social media accounts  

List of digitally born accounts and assets such as Bitcoin, PayPal, domain names, etc. 

A digital estate plan also includes designating someone you trust and who is digitally savvy to become your digital executor.  

Why do I need a Digital Estate Plan? 

Everyone who has a presence on the Internet, even if it is just an email account needs to think about Identity Theft. Identity theft can occur even after death.

In 2012, ID Analytics’ ID: A Labs revealed that 2.5 million deceased people’s identities were stolen each year.  A phenomena called “ghosting” occurs when an identity thief mines obituaries and social media accounts for personal information and then uses it to access financial and medical accounts (think about all those answers you’ve submitted for security questions such as mother’s maiden name).

It is important to have a digital executor in place to close down all your social media accounts as well as monitor your email accounts for electronic bills, receipts, and charges. 

How can I do this? 

It helps to start writing a list on paper or typing in an electronic document (no need for passwords or usernames yet) of all digital accounts you have including paid memberships, electronic transfers, bank accounts, utilities, social media accounts, etc.

Then collect the username and passwords to access these accounts. Once you designate your digital executor, hand them your digital estate plan on an encrypted flash drive. Sticking to paper? Provide a copy of your plan to your digital executor and ask that they store it in a secure location like a bank security box or home safe. 

The time and effort invested in a digital estate plan now will be greatly appreciated when your loved ones are trying to deal with protecting the estate as well as your identity from theft. 

Do you have a Digital Estate Plan in Place? Have a question or want to share your thoughts on this, leave a comment below. We love hearing from you! 

 

 

About Gabriela Burgman

Gabriela’s mission is to empower her clients with the tools and motivation they need to get and stay organized. Prior to becoming a Professional Organizer, Gabriela worked in a photograph archive as well as several university archives, assisting offices, administrators, and retiring academics to sort through their files for preservation or disposal. She became a professional organizer in 2007 working as an independent consultant before joining Living Peace. When Gabriela is not learning new ways to organize photos or paper both physically and electronically, she is spending time on what matters most to her: visiting with family and friends, reading a good mystery book, or cooking a tasty meal.

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