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Ensuring Your Digital Legacy: The Immortality of Your Online Presence

Answer: We all possess a digital presence that persists even after we pass away. To ensure that your executor can effectively manage your digital affairs posthumously, there are three key steps you should take.

Initially, provide your executor with a comprehensive list of the websites and online services you are affiliated with, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, email accounts, and photo storage platforms. It is advisable to store your passwords securely using an online password manager like Dashlane or 1Password, or by keeping them in a safe location at home or on your phone. Make sure your executor knows where to access this information.

Many online platforms now offer options for granting emergency or post-mortem access to your accounts by designating a Trusted Contact. While 1Password does not have a specific feature for sharing account access with heirs, it does offer a Families Plan for sharing confidential information with selected individuals. Facebook provides a Legacy Contact who can memorialize your profile and manage notifications, such as birthday reminders. Twitter and Instagram do not currently offer similar services but may act upon requests from verified immediate family members or authorized estate representatives. Elon Musk announced plans for Twitter to remove inactive accounts after a period of time starting in June 2023, although specific details on this process have not been disclosed yet.

For Google email accounts, you can utilize the Inactive Account Manager feature to specify conditions for sharing data or notifying a designated individual in case of prolonged account inactivity. Apple also offers a Legacy Contact option for managing digital assets. However, it is crucial to note that website policies can change, underscoring the importance of creating a “Digital Will” outlining your preferences for handling social media accounts, e-commerce platforms, emails, cloud storage, and instructions for accessing password-protected services. Additionally, ensure that your Power of Attorney for Finances and estate planning documents grant your personal representative the authority to manage your digital assets and profiles, including specific directives on their disposition.

In conclusion, furnish your personal representative with a detailed list of websites for closure or access posthumously, leverage platform tools where possible to authorize a trusted contact, and confirm that your legal documents empower your executor accordingly. By proactively addressing your digital footprint, you can prevent poignant annual reminders of your absence and ensure the appropriate management of your online legacy.

Liza Horvath, with over three decades of experience in estate planning and trust management, serves as the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management firm. This content is not intended as legal or tax advice. For inquiries, contact (831)646-5262 or email [email protected].