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Why is Digital Estate Planning Important?

In today’s digital age, our lives are increasingly intertwined with the online world. Therefore, it is not only important to consider your physical assets, but it is also crucial to have a plan for what will happen to your digital assets. Digital estate planning includes the management and distribution of your digital life, consisting of social media accounts, online accounts, and various digital assets.

Start by taking inventory of your digital assets

A digital asset consists of any form of content that is stored digitally together with any login details to online accounts and platforms. An inventory of your digital assets may include:

  • Online Accounts: Email, banking, subscription services, and shopping.
  • Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Cloud Storage: OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, etc.
  • Digital Files: Photos, videos, documents, etc.
  • Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currencies.
  • Websites and Blogs: If you own and manage websites or blogs.

It is important to make a list of all your digital accounts and assets, along with their login details and relevant important instructions.

Choose and appoint a digital executor

It is essential to choose a digital executor who will handle your digital affairs. It is the same as appointing an executor for your physical estate. This person should be familiar with technology and it should be someone you trust. It is important that you inform your chosen digital executor about their role and responsibilities. Your chosen beneficiaries should also be aware of the digital assets you have listed in your will.

It is crucial that you do not disclose any sensitive information in your actual will as your will becomes accessible to the general public when it is registered with the Master of the High Court after your death. Therefore, any sensitive digital information should only be made available to the digital executor.

Ensure that you secure important documents

Compile a list of all your important documents relating to your digital assets. Ensure that you store such documents in a secure location, such as a digital safe. A digital safe, also known as a digital vault, is a secure digital service or storage system designed to store and/or protect sensitive digital information and documents. It provides a way for individuals and organisations to safeguard their digital assets, such as documents, passwords, and other confidential data, from unauthorised access, loss, or theft.

The documents referred to herein include:

  • A compiled list of all your digital accounts together with their login credentials.
  • Details and contact information about your digital executor.
  • Instructions on how to access your devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers.
  • Any specific wishes you have regarding the management or deletion of certain digital assets.

It is crucial that you understand different platform policies

Different online platforms have different policies when it comes to what happens to your account after your passing. Certain platforms have specific requirements that must be met to grant access to an account to a designated person while other platforms allow memorialisation of accounts. It is crucial to understand the different policies and account for them in your digital estate plan.

It is important to read the Terms and Conditions of subscription services to ascertain whether the license is transferable after your death. Apple iCloud, for instance, requires you to agree that your account is non-transferable and that any rights to your Apple ID or content within your account terminate upon your death. It is for this reason that Apple encourages you to activate your Digital Legacy which allows you to add one or more contacts to access and download certain data in your account after your death. 

Ensure that you provide clear instructions

To avoid confusion and ensure your wishes are carried out, furnish your digital executor with very clear and detailed instructions. It is important that you specify what should happen to each account or digital asset.

Contact Us

Consulting with an attorney specialising in estate planning can be beneficial when creating your digital estate plan.

Please note that the information provided in this blog post is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice. For specific legal guidance, we encourage you to reach out to our team of experienced attorneys.

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