Estate Planning Tech Checklist

Even though we are talking about tech, I’m still a big proponent of writing things down on a piece of paper.

A tech checklist is one that I have recommended to my clients for years. It’s not a formal, legal document that we draft. Instead, it’s something that you need to do with your digital assets. Like reviewing your beneficiary designations, it’s one of the steps to creating the estate plan that is very personal to you. And as more of our lives move online, it’s an area that your personal representative will need to tackle after you’re gone. It used to be that you would just have all of your documents together in one spot for your family. Now, our information can be spread across many different locations (one of the reasons I worked with a financial advisor to create our My Personal Planning Essentials checklist for our clients). It’s important to know what’s out there.

A Tech Checklist Sequence For You

Last week, the Wall Street Journal had an article about “What to Do Before You Die: A Tech Checklist.” Joanna Stern does a good job of offering a roadmap for how you can approach this,

  1. Take inventory of your digital assets
  2. Add a digital executor to your will
  3. Add digital heirs to your accounts
  4. Plan to pass on your passwords
  5. Record your stories

As far as a tech checklist goes, this is a good list to start from. As Joanna Stern points out, #5 is not really a “legal” part of your estate plan. Rather, it’s a way to leave memories for your family. You’ll be faced with the big issue of what medium to record your stories in. Do you want that medium to be audio or visual? As with many decisions in your estate plan, these are your personal choices. Don’t leave them to some form-filling website that hooked you in with a Groupon for $39…

Your Social Media Accounts

One of the common questions I get these days is what happens to my social media accounts? Each social media platform has its own policies for what happens. If you’d like to know more about those policies, it’s one of the topics I covered in my free report with my friend Tony on financial planning and estate planning. (The free report also covers a variety of other topics that you may want to consider as you review your estate plan)

What About A Password Manager?

A password manager has been a recommendation I make for most clients for years now. For some clients, we are discussing how to manage their digital assets. For others, it’s as simple as keeping their email accounts safe while they are in a lawsuit. Remaining digitally vigilant has become part of our new norm. You can no longer plead ignorance and use “Password” or “1234” as your passwords. Most phones now use some type of biometric data to keep them secure (your fingerprint, your face, etc.). But to continue to guard against attacks, the WSJ highlighted 6 opportunities for you to make your digital life a little more secure:

  • Call your carrier and add a passcode to your mobile-phone account;
  • Get a password manager (I recommend this to my clients as well to safely manage their digital assets in their estate plans…);
  • Try out the “Forgot my password” option on your important accounts and see how they work;
  • Try adding a security key such as Yubikey or Google’s Titan;
  • Once you have a good second-factor authenticator in place, turn off SMS authentication; and
  • If you are a high-net-worth individual and want to really lock down your account, you can enroll in Google’s free Advanced Protection* program.

I don’t have any experience with Google’s Advanced Protection program, so that is something you should probably investigate before signing up blindly.

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Next Steps

While you are putting together your tech checklist, there are a variety of resources available to help you out. Feel free to grab a free copy of the report I created with Tony, my financial advisor friend, or the checklist we created for our clients to help organize your estate planning documents. If you don’t have a will yet, or if you have one that you may need to update, call my office to set up a Legal Strategy Session and we can review the best options for you – (877) AMAYERS.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.
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