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Planning an after-death digital presence

When planning for the handling of their estate, many people do not consider their social media and other accounts. This means that after they leave this world, their digital accounts might remain active. One example of this was Joan Rivers Facebook. A first-person post endorsing the new iPhone 6 showed up on her page several weeks after her death. Taking steps to plan a digital estate might help avoid such issues for others.

Many people may want their legacy preserved after death on social media sites, and others may want them removed. When planning how the accounts are handled, the first step is to write down every digital asset, including email accounts, social media accounts, blogs and online utility management accounts. It is important to keep all of this information in a safe place that somebody will be able to access when necessary. A password management program could keep access to all accounts simple, allowing the entry of a single password to access the full list of all passwords.

The next step is to decide what will happen to each account and to leave instructions regarding those wishes. A person may want to designate a trusted individual to access that information, handling the cancellation or management of these account in the decedent's place.

In addition to the handling of digital assets and accounts, estate plans may also need to focus on the execution of a benefactor's estate. It is important to keep an estate plan and relevant information up-to-date so that the executor can handle the estate properly. An attorney could help create a formal plan for digital assets as part of the overall estate planning process.

Source: KPCC, "Digital estate planning: 5 tips on how to avoid after-death social media disaster", Charley Moore, October 06, 2014

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