First of all, the choice of an executor is among the most important decisions you will make as you craft your estate plan. That is because the executor is the person you choose to implement your estate plan when you die. This is the person you will have to trust to distribute the assets in your will according to your wishes, as expressed in your estate plan.
Likewise, a digital executor is the person you will trust to manage and distribute all of your digital assets – which are those assets that are less tangible than traditional assets, like your digital photos, business or personal websites and social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook - after you die. This article will discuss the best criteria to use when choosing the right digital executor for your estate plan. Your digital executor does not replace your traditional executor; rather, think of it more as an assistant to the executor, brought into the mix to handle a certain type of assets. A digital executor is not legally recognized in some states, so be sure to check with a local estates and trusts attorney to learn how local laws affect your digital estate plan.
Qualities Needed for a Digital Executor
Like the main executor, your ideal digital executor will be highly organized and detail-oriented, but there is a lot more for them to know. For example, you will be trusting them to follow your instruction. That means they should be able to make a solemn commitment to that task, articulated in your digital estate plan. The right digital executor will also be very tech-oriented, and they should be comfortable using computers and the internet. The digital executor must also be a patient person, since the probate process often takes a long time, and the digital executor will deal with many different companies with differing corporate cultures.
When considering who should be named as your digital executor, you and your estate planner should consider carefully which types of digital assets you have. If they are mostly personal in nature, the digital executor should be someone you trust to have access to your most personal and private information, and who will deal with everything with discretion and tact. Remember; the digital executor will have access to all your personal computer files and sensitive personal online accounts, as well as email and online correspondence and your digital photos and videos.
Name a Digital Executor for Both Personal and Business Assets
To handle the personal side of your digital estate, choose someone with whom you're comfortable having access to the personal details of your life. Consider which person in your life you'd trust with your personal digital property, and whether that person will likely follow your wishes regarding disposal of your personal digital assets, whether you want to leave some for a loved one, as well as those assets you plan to archive or erase.
Trust in a digital executor is critical, since they will have access to every detail contained in your online financial and account information, including standard bank accounts and investment accounts. They will also have access to all vendor invoices and credit card statements, so they will know all of your deepest business secrets. Your digital executor will have access to information on revenue generated from either online and/or brick-and-mortar businesses, including both hard and digital financial assets. You may consider naming the same person as both your financial digital executor and your traditional executor.
Many people with an estate plan have a considerable number of business-related digital assets, especially if your business is conducted primarily online. Consider this; your digital executor must have access to any online accounts registered to the business, including affiliate accounts, website hosting accounts, and social media accounts, among others. You may also have accounts containing assets generated by the business, like customer contact information and purchased mailing lists. You must be able to trust your digital executor to maintain continuity in the business’s management, so you might want a digital executor who has detailed knowledge of the business, so a manager or colleague may be your best choice.
You May Want to Have Multiple Digital Executors
If you have many categories of digital assets, you may want to name more than one digital executor to be responsible for carrying out your wishes. If you'd like to name different people to handle different aspects of your digital estate, you can name different digital executors and specify the digital assets you'd like each one to be responsible for. with many different companies with differing corporate cultures.
If you are working with an attorney to craft your will or an overall estate plan, tell them you'd like to create a specific digital estate plan and that you’d like to name a digital executor in your will. Your estates and trusts attorney can help you craft the necessary language to include in your will.