There are two primary options currently available to help your loved ones manage your digital assets after your passing. While I can’t comment on the legality of these suggestions based on the many and varied user agreements, it is intended that these suggestions are used without mal intent to violate any law.
Your first option is to translate digital assets back to tangible items that can be physically transferred. For example, in the case of music files, burn them to CDs. The records in email or online data bases that have value could be printed or saved to an physical storage device (like a USB drive) in a file type that can be opened by the person to whom you wish to transfer them. In addition, all sensitive data should be encrypted and stored in a mindfully secure way.
A second, and potentially less effective option is to create a record of usernames and passwords as well as necessary responses to security questions.Store this information in a highly secure location, with instructions for accessing within your secured estate documents. The problems for this method include the periodic and inconsistent credential updating required by many providers and the risk of centrally locating so much sensitive data and access.
So what’s the take away? Though new, it is important to be thinking about your Digital Estate and making your own plan for any highly valuable digital assets (whether that be monetarily or emotionally valuable). As an evolving, important part of estate planning, we anticipate greater clarity and legal definition in the near future to help us plan better for the Digital Estate.