A bank or brokerage account will not take your assets, if you pass.  However, your digital assets, such as photos or frequent flier miles, may disappear upon your death, if you do not take steps to protect them. What is worse, what if you have online accounts (such as email accounts or dating apps) that you do not want hacked or accessed after you pass?  There are ways to protect these digital assets.  

First – Make a List:  Compile a list of your digital accounts, along with your passwords and answers to security questions.  Start with your devices like smartphones, laptops, and computers. Then inventory other electronic records you use, own or control.  

Second – Take an Inventory of your Assets:  Which of the following do you have: email accounts, social media, storage and file sharing, rewards, shopping services, blogs and online businesses, gaming accounts, video services, music services, books, photo sharing and storage, online dating accounts or virtual currency?  

Third – Decide who gets what: Some assets are non-transferrable, like books.  However, you can set up family accounts that allow you to share the licensed items now and after you pass.  Some travel carriers claim their miles expire, when you do. However, many will transfer the miles to your designated heir.  Some companies (specifically Google and Facebook) allow you to designate someone to handle your accounts and shut them down upon your death.  To find out which of your accounts allow this service, search the company name along with “what happens to may account when I die”. Once you determine who gets what, write down your wishes and provide the login and other pertinent information that the beneficiary will need to access the account they are to receive or manage.  

Fourth – Appoint a ‘digital executor’:  Designate a trusted person (it could be the executor of your will) to handle the digital details upon your passing.   Make sure that the person you choose is willing to take on the task and has the technological savvy to accomplish your wishes. You should name this person in your will or trust to provide them with the authority to carry out your instructions.  

Fifth – Set a date to review your Plan:  In the ever-changing digital world, you will need to make sure that you update your inventory, account list and password list regularly.  It is suggested to do this at least once a year, to make sure that you are up to date.  

Excerpted from the Cleveland Plain Dealer Business Section October 13, 2019.