Many people have a pretty good general idea of what needs to be in their Will; they know that they need to manage what happens to their estate and ensure that the right assets go to the right beneficiaries. There are financial assets that have to be split up, properties, superannuation balances and shares to distribute, and there are issues like pet ownership and guardianship for minor children. All of that is important, and it will make up the bulk of your Will.
However, there are definitely elements that most people will not have considered, and one of them is what will happen to your digital presence after you pass away. What will happen to your Facebook account? Your emails? Your website? Your Twitter or Instagram account?
Some of these questions are going to become more and more important over the next few years, but it’s worth beginning to consider them now, especially for younger professionals who have a larger digital footprint and need to consider the impact of their social and internet accounts on their legacy and their estate.
So what are the options?
One of the easiest ways to address this is actually to start thinking about having access to your social media accounts broken down and determined in your Will itself, with directions for who should take over the accounts and what should be done with them. If you want the accounts shut down, maintained or archived, this is where you’d make that decision. It’s important to include access to the information that whoever you choose will need in order to follow your wishes - including passwords and access codes.
If you make the decision to shut down any of your digital assets or accounts, you may want to leave instructions that dictate whether you want the content preserved or sent to anyone, particularly with regards to anything you’ve written or created!
Something to consider - your photos and cloud storage!
One of the most important digital assets any of us have today is going to be our cloud storage drives and our photos, stored through places like Apple Photos and Google Photos. With so many of our precious memories now held on servers and connected to the accounts we manage while we’re alive, it’s a scary thought that those moments could be permanently lost if we don’t plan for who should take over their management and preserve them.
Leaving a plan behind for any important documents or for keeping track of your photos after your death should be a priority for anyone considering creating their Will and thinking about their estate and legacy in a little more detail. If you want your family and loved ones to be able to hold onto the photos you’ve taken, this is a vital step.
Your accounts may need to be verified if you don’t leave behind instructions
Without clear instructions on how to manage your social, photo and digital accounts, there is a chance that the platforms behind them will need to verify your death and identity, causing additional stress and complications for your family in a stressful time. You can get around that easily by making sure you grant access to your digital estate in your Will.