Digital possessions – be they e-mails, texts, photos or tweets – are fundamentally different than tangible goods, says Odom, who has been investigating bereavement in the digital age. This makes digital materials particularly challenging to deal with after death.
As our daily lives ascend ever higher into technological progress, the practical problems associated with how to manage and even transfer that technology increases. To the extent you have a “digital life,” what arrangements have you made for your “digital afterlife,” let alone the future of your digital assets? How do you plan for that?
Digital estate planning is a hot topic, especially for today’s “connected” generations. Regardless whether they can remember life before the microchip, Americans now live a significant part of their lives digitally. Not only is this new life overwhelming for end-users, but the very architects of our digital world are confounded with the intersection of digital life and death.
A recent article in ScienceNews titled “Computer scientists grapple with how to manage the digital legacy of the departed,” considers the issues confronted by computer scientists with Congress not far behind.
When it comes to estate planning for your digital assets there are a few tools like the “inactive account manager” from Google. Overall, however, the field is simply too new.
Fortunately, the key to planning for your digital assets really is not – legally – all that different from planning for your non-digital assets. A good start is listing all of your digital accounts and passwords, then making sure the agents and fiduciaries over your estate plan can access them when needed.