Estate planning is something every serious investor should consider, but as technology extends the reach of your identity beyond the physical world, new challenges are arising. Who inherits your digital identity when you die? What is the value of your Facebook account? Do all heirs have the same level of access? These are questions that must be sorted out. Having a plan makes it easier. Dalvin Brown discusses estate planning issues for technology in The Wall Street Journal, writing:
Just as you set up a living will or a power of attorney, it’s a good idea to set up your online accounts so that someone else can access them after you’ve passed on.
It’s no fun to think about a day when we’re no longer here, but facing reality can save work and heartache for relatives and heirs. If you haven’t set up digital-legacy contacts or other means to share accounts after your death, your heirs typically have to go through a lengthy process to gain access to your data. In some cases, such as with some password managers, there may be no way for heirs to gain access unless you take steps in advance.
“When you don’t personally set up who has access to your accounts, you’ll be leaving behind a big mess and a lot of stress for your family,” said Bill Gaggos, an estate-planning attorney in Troy, Mich.
Mr. Gaggos, who helps clients store their valuable documents online, says he saw the problem become more common during the pandemic, as people fell ill and died suddenly without granting anyone access to their online accounts.
Apple, Google and Facebook parent Meta Platforms are among the tech companies that provide digital-legacy tools to let users bequeath account access to others. They work by letting you designate who can download your data or access your profiles after your death. The legacy-contact tools typically don’t require you to share your passwords with your heirs, but you can also set up password managers to share your account credentials, and other private information, upon your death.
The catch is that you must enable the tools before you’re gone. You can set them up in your app and device settings, which we will walk you through. Here is how to ensure your loved ones have access to all the necessary accounts after your death.
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