Have you considered creating a digital will?

If you are like most Louisiana residents, you have accumulated quite a large digital footprint. You no longer receive paper statements regarding your deposit accounts or creditors. You may have accounts with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Perhaps you use a PayPal account that's tied to your eBay account.

With all of these online accounts, you have created yourself a digital life. As you embark on your estate-planning journey, you may want to be sure that you make provisions for your digital assets as well. You can transfer ownership of these assets in your will or put them into your trust, but you can also create a digital will to deal with them specifically.

What is a digital will?

This particular document does not need to be as formal as your last will and testament. However, it does need to provide your family members with instructions to close down your digital accounts. You may want to consider the following if you think you could make use of such a document:

  • You will need to inventory your online accounts, including the following, among other things:
    • Online bank accounts
    • Social media accounts
    • Email accounts
    • Online brokerage accounts
    • Photo storage
    • Blogs
    • Accounts that make withdrawals from your bank account
  • You will need to choose someone you trust to serve as executor. This person should know the location of your digital will, along with an alternate executor, just in case your first choice cannot or will not serve when the time comes.
  • You will need to provide your executor with detailed instructions regarding each of your digital accounts. This is where you decide what happens to them, but you may want to remember to identify any property transfers in your formal will or trust.

Once you complete the document, it needs your signature. You may not need to go through the formal execution process as with your formal will and other estate planning documents, but it wouldn't hurt. This may help keep surviving family members from arguing over these assets and accounts.

Like other estate planning documents, this document needs a safe storage place. You may also want to review it periodically to ensure that it still reflects all of your accounts and outlines how you want them handled upon your death. Doing so could avoid an account slipping through the cracks. You may also want to make sure that it does not contradict any other document that provides instructions regarding your assets.

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