Social Media Icons on a Clock FaceIn addition to planning for end-of-life care and deciding who will receive our belongings after our passing, we have another consideration our ancestors never dreamed of: our digital legacy. What happens to our online presence after the physical one is gone? Our New York estate planning attorneys can help with this 21st Century problem and ensure that you’re represented the way you want to be after your passing.

How to Prepare a Digital Estate Plan

Many people today live their whole lives online, from shopping and banking to booking trips and communicating with friends and family. Identifying your digital assets is the first step in determining what should be done with them after your lifetime. Some common elements of an online presence include:

  • Email accounts
  • Digital music, photo, or video libraries
  • Cloud-based storage (such as Dropbox or iCloud)
  • Social media profiles (such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram)
  • Messaging apps (such as What’s App, Discord, or Facebook Messenger)
  • Personal blog, websites, or publishing sites
  • Monetized platforms (such as Patreon or YouTube)
  • Gaming platforms (such as fantasy sports or gambling sites) 
  • E-commerce sites where you might carry balances (like eBay or PayPal)

Gather Your Usernames and Passwords

Your digital beneficiary will need your login information to access each one of your accounts. Some accounts can be accessed with a single login (such as an Apple or Google ID), while others must be done one at a time. Don’t forget the login info for each device (your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone) so they can access your saved files. While your bank accounts and creditors are typically handled by your executor, you may wish to include your login information for online billing portals to help your representative access and print documents. Finally, keep the information in a secure location, such as with the attorney that holds your will or in a safety deposit box.

Set Specific and Detailed Instructions

You should write up specific instructions on what you want to happen with each of your digital accounts. Personal Facebook pages can be converted to memorial pages (allowing visitors to leave comments or condolences) or simply deleted, while Twitter allows users to schedule posts for weeks or months after their passing. You could also request that your representative clear your browser history, delete your emails, or erase your hard drive.

Pick Someone You Trust With Your Legacy

Some platforms only allow the executor of a user’s estate to make final changes to the deceased’s profile. If you select someone other than your executor to carry out your digital estate plan, make sure your executor is aware of the scope of that person’s duties. Choose someone you trust to carry out your instructions to the letter and who is tech-savvy enough to handle all your digital assets.

What if My Loved One Left No Digital Plans?

If you’re the executor of someone’s estate and can’t find any instructions for online accounts, you may be able to find guidance on their wishes in their will. When choosing whether to delete or suspend social media accounts, consider how friends and loved ones would respond if visitors posted messages on those pages. In addition, you should consider the possibility that certain accounts can be hacked for private data or phishing scams. Manu accounts can be deactivated indefinitely, giving you a chance to review your options before permanently deleting the account.

Let Us Help You With Your Customized Estate Plan

Everyone has different concerns when it comes to preserving their wealth, reputation, and legacy. Our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys can create an estate plan as unique as you are, and reevaluate it every few years to ensure your wishes are followed. Contact Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group, P.C., today at (718) 333-5007 or through our online form to learn how we can help you.