In today’s digital age, seniors are taking full advantage of everything the Internet has to offer, from shopping, connecting with family and friends, managing their finances online, watching streaming content, and so much more. A 2021 study showed that 75 percent of seniors age 65 and older are Internet users, and the use of smartphones and social media continues to climb in the older adult demographic. In many cases, seniors are finding that they have created a digital presence that is just as meaningful as their physical lives.
This shift has brought forth new considerations for seniors and their families, including the important topic of sharing your digital legacy with heirs. Having a will or family trust is par for the course when a senior is creating a legacy plan for the transfer of assets. Now in the era of smart devices and passwords, seniors in the process of planning for the future need to consider how to share their digital presence with their loved ones.
The Digital Footprint: A New Aspect of Senior Life
Thanks to the Internet, we’re living dual lives–a physical one and a digital one. Our emails, social media accounts, online banking, and more, form our digital footprint, a collection of digital assets that hold memories, financial information, and personal history. Just as you would plan your physical legacy, it’s crucial to consider your digital legacy, too.
The Need to Share: A Delicate Conversation Among Seniors and Their Families
Seniors need to understand the importance of sharing their digital legacy with their heirs as the first step. It might not be an easy conversation, but it’s necessary. By sharing your digital life, you empower your loved ones to manage your online accounts after you’re gone. This includes granting them access to your financial accounts, social media profiles, and any other online platforms you’re a part of. This process also ensures that your digital presence will be memorialized in the way you want, so it is best to prepare now for the time when you won’t be able to manage your online reputation. Typically, it requires a court order to access a deceased loved one’s digital property.
Tips for Seniors to Create a Digital Estate Plan
Compile a List: Begin by creating a comprehensive list of your digital accounts and their respective login credentials. Include everything from email accounts and online subscriptions to investment and banking websites.
Choose a Digital Executor: Much like selecting an executor for your will, appoint someone you trust as your digital executor. This person will be responsible for handling your digital assets according to your wishes.
Use a Password Manager: To ensure security while sharing passwords, consider using a reputable password manager. These tools encrypt your login information and allow your digital executor access when needed.
Write Clear Instructions: Draft a document detailing your wishes for each digital account. This could include instructions for memorializing social media accounts, transferring ownership of specific digital assets, or shutting down certain accounts.
Privacy and Security Considerations for Senior Legacy Planning
While sharing passwords is crucial, it’s equally important to prioritize security and privacy. Here are some key steps to take:
Use Strong, Unique Passwords: Ensure your accounts are well-protected with strong, unique passwords.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA wherever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
Regular Updates: Regularly update your list of digital accounts and passwords to account for any changes.
Secure Document Storage: Store your password document and other important digital legacy information in a secure location, such as a password-protected USB drive or encrypted cloud storage.
The Conversation Continues: Keeping Your Family Informed
Once you’ve established your digital estate plan, keep your family informed about its existence and location. Encourage open communication so that everyone understands their role when the time comes.
In this digital age, our lives are intricately woven with the online world. Just as we plan for our physical possessions, it’s essential to plan for our digital legacy as well. By initiating conversations and creating a well-thought-out digital estate plan, you provide your loved ones with the tools they need to honor your memory and manage your affairs.
As your partner and advocate on the senior care journey, Amada Senior Care is here to support you and your family every step of the way. At Amada, we have developed a strong referral network of reputable senior financial planners and elder law attorneys who can offer professional help if you have any questions or need guidance. CLICK HERE to find an Amada office near you.
“Legacy Planning: How Seniors Can Share Their Digital Life,” written by Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributor.