Estate planning is crucial to ensure what happens to your assets after death, but while physical assets such as property are top of mind, digital assets such as social media and emails are often forgotten about.
There are three steps people should take to ensure that digital and online assets are not left out of their estate plan.
It is common to underestimate the time and work involved in being the executor of an estate and often one of the most difficult tasks is sifting through the reams of online information we leave behind.
However, there are steps you can take to document the right information for your executor to make the job more seamless for them.
Document everything that requires online access
Make a list of all the things your executor should be aware of, including bank accounts, superannuation, insurance, and investments such as cryptocurrencies, utilities, memberships and subscriptions.
Without the right information to hand, your estate could continue to accumulate unnecessary expenses for some time as your executor tries to find all the information
Many people think about the high-level information such as bank accounts, but you should aim to record everything that would need to be actioned or cancelled, from direct debits to Amazon and Uber accounts.
Who can gain access to digital records is an emerging area of the law, with New South Wales proposing to allow an authorised person to access records on behalf of a person who has passed away or become incapacitated.
Most of us have accumulated a great deal of information that is stored digitally, either on personal devices or on a third party’s server.
Trying to navigate all of this information without the right level of access can make the role of an executor much harder.
While passing on your passwords and logins is not legal in some states, you can have a clause added into your will to allow your executor to access, monitor and delete digital assets and records.
Some providers, such as Google and Facebook, will allow you to appoint an account trustee to download some of your account content if unattended for an amount of time.
People often procrastinate over their estate plan because they don’t want to think about their own demise or because they fear the time, energy and cost involved.
Whatever your fears about estate planning, make it a priority as the damage that can result from your inaction will always be greater.
Once you have documented everything, you will benefit from the peace of mind of knowing your affairs and your loved ones will be taken care of when you are gone.