Make Plans for Digital Assets Before You Die

Just as you name an executor for tangible assets, financial advisers say you need a digital executor, too

By Lisa Parker
|  Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013  |  Updated 4:20 PM CDT
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What happens to your digital life after you pass on? It's a tricky question, and one for which Lisa Parker sought answers.

What happens to your digital life after you pass on? It's a tricky question, and one for which Lisa Parker sought answers.

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So many of the things you plan to leave behind after death are obvious: real estate, money, jewelry. But increasingly, a number of your assets that aren’t so obvious need to be addressed in planning: your digital assets.

"Your Facebook account, Twitter, that kind of stuff isn’t something you typically go talk to your lawyer about," said financial writer Katie Hill.

Still, it's an idea she recommends consumers take seriously.

Increasingly, a consumer's digital assets, from online bank accounts to frequent flier and rewards program to social media, are becoming a consideration for estate planning

"You do want someone to handle these accounts so they’re not floating around in cyberspace for the next 20 years," said Hill.

Just as you name an executor for tangible assets, financial advisers say you need a digital executor, too; someone who can access your accounts after death. Websites offering that type of service are popping up, though many consumers still opt for the low-tech, hard copy option.

"Make one document with account names and account numbers, then one copy with passwords. … Keep separate but so that if you die, someone could put them together and figure it out,” Hill recommends.

For the sake of your heirs, financial planners say, a little planning can help assure your life online doesn't survive long after you do.

Attorney Maria Baler: 5 questions to consider when planning for digital assets

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