Digital Estate Planning Sites

Don't be like Prince; Pass your Financial Passwords to your Survivors

Digital Estate Planning Sites
April 27, 2016

Reports are that musician Prince died without leaving a will. You may not have millions in assets, but have you acted to take care of your estate and your heirs after you pass away? If so, have you considered the digital aspects of your legacy?

Technology has required a change in end-of-life planning. Many important bits of information are stored online or in the cloud that spouses or heirs can find themselves locked out of due to a lack of password. It is also not practical to change a will every time you change a password.

New companies have sprung up to take advantage of this need. Digital estate planners help you take care of all of your end-of-life planning, while compiling the necessary passwords and digital footprints that you wish to pass on to others. With names like Everplans.com, Final Roadmap, Planned Departure, and The Digital Beyond, these sites offer comprehensive services to ensure that important information is passed down to the proper parties and that your wishes are clearly noted and accessible.

Digital estate planners offer a useful combination of convenience and security. They allow you to upload all of the typical documents such as wills, health care directives, and trusts. You can also lay out and store plans for anything else you want to be addressed after death like the details of your funeral (to the extent you want to dictate them), the disposition of all your online accounts (financial and social), appraisals and dispositions of family heirlooms, important photos, and details of family genealogy.

Even day-to-day details could be included — for example, to help heirs handle a home that is passed down. How many bills are there, and where are they routed? Where are the water and gas shutoffs? Is there important maintenance information such as roof replacement or foundation piers that will be important in assessing the home's value? A bit of pre-emptive planning now could save your heirs a lot of time, and potentially keep your home intact.

Digital planning sites allow you to choose who has access to your information and when they can access it (currently, at some future date, or upon your death). Be sure to keep this information current, and let your chosen designees know about the site and that you have chosen them as one of the guardians of your information.

There is one potential downfall of digital estate planning — the long-term viability of the company that you choose. It is wise to keep a backup copy of the most important online documents such as your will, but remember to update both the online and backup copies at the same time. Otherwise, you may have two versions of your paperwork and confusion (and probably legal fees) will ensue. Remember to let at least one person know that the documents exist and where they are being kept.

Before you dive into the world of digital estate planning, we suggest that you take time to reflect on your wishes and discuss them with your family. These sites will ask in-depth questions that you really do not want to decide on in the spur of the moment. Do not forget to consult with a lawyer on all areas that require legal assistance, such as wills, business succession plans, or intellectual property holdings. Take special care with your health care directives and other end-of-life requests.

Consider if a digital planning site can meet your end-of-life needs. You can save your family from having to make incredibly difficult decisions under stress.


Photo ©iStock.com/vaeenma

  Conversation   |   9 Comments

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Steffanie | 04.28.16 @ 13:47
Estate Planning really should be a must. It is so helpful to have some things taken care of so you don't have to worry while you are grieving. Not sure if I like the idea of using a website though.
Carla Truett | 04.28.16 @ 13:48
It would be a shame to plan out your estate in case of death and not share the information with at least one person. I am going to look for more information on these sites mentioned because it just may be what I need.
Erin | 04.28.16 @ 13:49
This is something I will have to look into. I think it would make things so much easier for the people who have to deal with the details after a death to have everything in one place and neatly organized. It would be interesting to have a list of the best sites available out there right now.
Irene | 04.28.16 @ 13:50
I think in my case anything I may have would just automatically go to my only son.
Selena Walls | 04.28.16 @ 13:51
I hadn't considered any of this. I thought just an old fashion, paper will would be enough for my family, but after reading this, I see there are a lot of areas I didn't take into consideration at all.
Daniel Dohlstrom | 04.28.16 @ 13:54
I have seen this type of issue happen to friends, it really is important in this day and age to plan all this out.
Kamie | 04.28.16 @ 13:57
A will is really needs to be planned out, I have seen many friends and family end up not prepared and ready after a loved one dies. Families end up in an unnecessary drama, and split up, or friends end up fighting one another.
Sarah | 04.28.16 @ 13:59
I admit this is something I have not given enough thought. Think it's time to bite the bullet but maybe just use a site as a starting point... not too sure about it
Tim | 05.11.16 @ 19:01
It's a shame you missed USLegalWills.com . This site allows you to create all of your estate planning documents and also has digital asset management.
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