How to Choose a Digital Executor

A digital executor is the person who manages your digital assets after you die, pays any debts or maintenance fees on behalf of your digital estate, and distributes your digital assets to the people you want in the way you want. A digital executor does not replace a traditional executor, but serves in a complementary capacity.

Qualities of a digital executor

An ideal digital executor will be someone who is:

  • Highly organized and detail-oriented
  • Committed to following your wishes as you've spelled them out in your will or digital estate plan
  • Tech-savvy and comfortable using the Internet
  • Patient, as the process may take a long time and may require engaging with many different companies

How to choose the best person to serve as your digital executor

When considering who to name as your digital executor, think about the different types of digital assets you have. Are they mostly personal? Are they mostly financial? Are they mostly related to a business you own? Or are they a mix? No matter the type of digital property you have, you'll want to consider the nature of the executor's role to find the right person for the job.

Naming a digital executor for personal digital property

If you have mostly personal digital property, your digital executor will have access to all your computer files, personal online accounts, email and online correspondences, and photos and videos. While some people would be uncomfortable giving this kind of access to a spouse or family member, others can't imagine sharing this information with anyone but a spouse or family member. Think about who in your life you'd trust with your personal digital property, and who you believe would be able to follow your wishes around archiving, distributing, or erasing your personal digital property.

Naming a digital executor for financial digital property

If you have mostly financial digital property, your digital executor will have access to all your financial information and accounts (including bank accounts, investment accounts, and credit cards statements) and any revenue that's generated from online businesses. Because there is so much cross-over between digital financial assets and hard financial assets, you might consider naming the same person as your financial digital executor and your traditional executor. If you'd like to name different people for each role as co-executors, keep in mind that the two people you name will have to work together to settle your estate, and will have to act together and be in agreement with one another on a range of issues.

Naming a digital executor for business-related digital property

If you have a sizable amount of business-related digital property—if your business is primarily online or if you run an online store, for example—your digital executor will have access to any online accounts registered to the business (including social media accounts, affiliate accounts, and web hosting), any accounts containing assets generated by the business, and any assets associated with any online transactions related to the business (such as customer information and mailing lists). Maintaining continuity in the management of the business will be important, and so it may be a good idea to name a digital executor who has an intimate knowledge of the business, such as a colleague. If you don't have anyone who runs the business with you, naming your traditional executor as your digital executor may be a good choice.

Naming more than one person as your digital executor

You may have a wide variety of different types of digital assets, and so you may not want to name a single digital executor to be responsible for all digital assets. If you'd like to have different people handle different parts of your digital estate, you can name different digital executors and specify the digital assets you'd like each person to be responsible for.

For sample language to use when naming a digital executor, see our article Sample Language to Use when Naming a Digital Executor.

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