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Estate planning for your digital life


Occasionally we send an email to someone’s work only to find they are no longer employed there and a dutiful administrator has closed the account. Have you ever considered who’s going to close your personal online accounts after you die?

We live in an age where practically everything we do is recorded online. We have logins and passwords for bank accounts and bill paying services, library memberships, email accounts, eBay, PayPal… the list seems endless.

But many of us never give a thought to what happens to all those online accounts and logins after we leave this planet.

We also live in a time when identity theft is rife and protecting our passwords and online data has never been more important, so the challenge we face is how do we record this sensitive information but also make it accessible to the right people when we’re no longer here?

With so much of our lives stored on computers and most of our daily communications and financial transactions taking place online, this has become a crucial issue to address when planning our estate.

For example, is it now part of the executor’s role to close down your internet accounts which not only include bank accounts, but social media identities and records?

Digital security is not just about guarding your logins and personal information while you’re alive. This reality has been the launching pad for new business enterprises that can:


  • provide secure upload facilities for your important documents to the cloud,
  • enable you to securely record all your login and password details,
  • allow you to assign data and passwords to beneficiaries after your death.

Even so, if you don’t tell anyone you have a “virtual safe” how will they know?

Whether you have set up one of these services or not, it’s imperative when discussing your Will with your adviser that you securely record such information to enable your estate to be finalised as easily as possible.

It will most likely fall on your executor to close your online accounts and manage your “virtual” assets. Along with the distribution of your other valuable items, your executor will need access to your computer to disburse your photos, close your social media accounts and remove or destroy sensitive files and documents.

If you already have a Will, you’ll know the importance of keeping it up to date. Your online information and virtual assets are valuable and should be included for consideration whenever your Will is reviewed. This is also where you need to leave clear instructions for what you want done with those sensitive files.

If this has made you realise that you need to update your Will, make an appointment with your estate planner soon. If you don’t have one, ask us for a referral. By doing so, you will protect your online identity – even after you’ve logged off for the final time.

*source The Digital Beyond

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