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Digital Estate Planning: Managing Your Online Presence After Death

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

Our online presence outlives us in the digital age, leaving behind a virtual footprint that can linger indefinitely. Have you ever wondered what happens to your social media, emails, and online accounts once you’re gone? Digital estate planning is your answer, ensuring your digital life is managed according to your wishes after death. This process protects your online assets and prevents unnecessary complications for your loved ones, securing your legacy in the digital world.

Understanding Your Digital Estate

Your digital estate encompasses everything you own in the digital realm, from your social media profiles and email accounts to online banking information, digital photos, and even cryptocurrency holdings. It’s a collection of assets and identities you’ve built online over your lifetime. As we increasingly live our lives on the internet, these assets become significant components of our personal and financial legacy. Without proper planning, accessing or managing these assets can become a complex challenge for your loved ones. Recognizing the breadth of your digital estate is the first step toward ensuring it’s handled as you wish and can allow you to safeguard both sentimental and monetary value for those you leave behind.

Legal Framework in Minnesota

In Minnesota, the management of digital assets after death is guided by the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), which was adopted to address the growing need for digital estate planning. This law allows individuals to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets by giving fiduciaries legal authority to access, control, or copy digital assets, following the user’s explicit consent. Understanding Minnesota’s legal framework is essential for residents to ensure their digital legacy is handled according to their wishes, providing clear directions and permissions within their estate plans to comply with state regulations.

Steps to Secure Your Digital Legacy

  • Inventory Your Digital Assets: Start by listing all your digital assets, including social media accounts, online storage, email accounts, and digital wallets. This comprehensive inventory will guide your executors, making it easier for them to understand the scope of your digital presence.
  • Decide on Your Digital Executors: Choose a trusted individual who will be responsible for managing your digital assets after you pass away. This person should be tech-savvy and understand the value of your digital estate, capable of following your instructions diligently.
  • Provide Access Instructions: Securely document how your digital executors can access your digital assets. This might include passwords, security questions, or instructions on where to find this sensitive information.
  • Include Digital Assets in Your Will or Trust: Legally incorporate your digital assets into your estate plan. This might involve specifying your wishes in your will or setting up a trust, clearly outlining what should be done with each component of your digital estate.
  • Regularly Update Your Digital Estate Plan: As you acquire new digital assets or change passwords, update your estate plan accordingly. This ongoing process ensures your digital legacy remains accurate and accessible.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Navigating the management of a digital estate isn’t without its hurdles. One common challenge is the sheer volume of digital assets individuals accumulate, often leading to overlooked accounts or outdated information. Regularly review and update your digital inventory to combat this, ensuring it reflects your current digital footprint. Another issue arises with password management; as security practices evolve, keeping track of access details becomes complex. Utilizing a password manager can streamline this process, securely storing access information in one place. Additionally, ensuring your digital executor is informed and prepared can alleviate potential confusion, making the transition smoother. Proactive planning and organization are key to overcoming these challenges and securing your digital legacy for the future.

Unique Estate Law Can Help Plan for Your Digital Assets

Unique Estate Law can guide you through securing your digital legacy with ease. We understand the complexities of digital assets and will ensure your online presence is managed exactly as you wish. Don’t leave your digital legacy to chance; contact us today to ensure your online life is protected and preserved.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.