How to Do Digital Estate Planning

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As more and more stuff "Goes Digital" or is stored in digital format, so it becomes important to manage all this Digital Information or, as we call it, Digital Estate Planning. We would do this also by creating an Estate Planning Checklist where we would jot down all our various digital assets in their various categories. Before we go into the details of how to do digital estate planning, let's look at some of the different characteristics of digital assets:

The first is the monetary value: monetary values are those where a specific and realizable amount of money is held in some online account, for example PayPal, E-Bay or an online bank account, where the monies held can be directly transferred upon access.
Then there are the trading values that are those wherein the value contained are not realizable as actual monies, but hold an inherent financial value, and these can be exchanged and transferred, for example iTunes or the Amazon Player.
The sentimental values are those specifically that are of a value and meaning to family and friends, comprising of photographs, videos, memories and relationships.These could be considered similar to a traditional photograph album, and are held on sites such Flickr and Facebook.

The historical informationare contained within the entries made over the course of the interactions of a person, through emails and blogs. These contain history, details and references that hold the sequential understandings of an individual's historical relationship with the internet.
The data values hold a worth with regard to the industry of data mining, whereby access to data holds a value in the context of directional advertising, relevant marketing and strategic planning, such as in Gmail.

Some digital assets may be of value that can be lost if they go undiscovered for too long. Let's consider the case of Leonard Bernstein who died in 1990 leaving the manuscript for his memoir entitled Blue Ink on his computer in a password protected file. To this day, no one has been able to break the password and access what may be a very interesting and valuable document.

Electronic bills for loans, insurance, and website hosting also need to be discovered quickly and paid in order to prevent cancellations. This concern is augmented further if the deceased or incapacitated ran an online business and is the only person with access to incoming orders, the servers, corporate bank accounts, and employee payroll accounts. Bids for items advertised on eBay may go unanswered and lost forever. This is, of course, also very important for businesses.

Then we also have wills, that today can be prepared using an online will service, or insurance policies, and deeds and mortgages

Digital Estate Planning
A digital estate plan identifies each element of the digital legacy as detailed above, and creates a complete inventory and categorization of the data in order to create a mechanism whereby access and transfer of all the digital assets can be facilitated. Depending upon the individual country, the laws of transfer of assets and tax implicationsare issues that should be considered and understood, but from an individual perspective, a digital estate plan is the identification and listing of all digital assets.

Use Online Afterlife Companies

Recently, entrepreneurs recognizing the need for digital estate planning have created companies that offer services to assist in planning for digital assets. These companies, such as E-Z-Safe, offer a variety of services to assist clients in storing information about digital assets as well as notes and emails that clients wish to send post-mortem. In addition, some of them provide a system that helps pass on the information upon the Due Date. E-Z-Safe has a built-in automatic/manual system. Estate Planning Attorneysalso find this additional service to be valuable for their clients.

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