Though some states recognize the legality of Digital Executors, others don't. It's always a good idea to speak with a licensed estate attorney in your state.
Naming A Digital Executor With An Estate Attorney
If you're working with an estate attorney, he or she should be able to help you craft language that's appropriate for your situation and in compliance with your state's laws.
Naming A Digital Executor With An Online Legal Service
If you're creating a will with an online legal service, the company you're working with may have updated their forms to include appropriate language for naming a digital executor. If not, you will want to add your own language or create a "codicil to will" (an amendment to your will) naming a digital executor.
Sample Language To Use When Naming A Digital Executor
To help you get started, here is some sample language to use to name a Digital Executor when creating your will or creating a codicil to will. Please be aware that this language may not be legally binding in your state, and that this does not constitute legal advice. Always check with a licensed attorney in your state regarding your state's laws.
The first part of this language defines the specific powers that you're granting to your digital executor. The second part defines "digital assets."
Digital Assets. My executor shall have the power to access, handle, distribute and dispose of my digital assets.
“Digital Assets.” “Digital assets” includes files stored on my digital devices, including but not limited to, desktops, laptops, tablets, peripherals, storage devices, mobile telephones, smartphones, and any similar digital device which currently exists or may exist as technology develops or such comparable items as technology develops. The term “digital assets” also includes but is not limited to emails received, email accounts, digital music, digital photographs, digital videos, software licenses, social network accounts, file sharing accounts, financial accounts, domain registrations, DNS service accounts, web hosting accounts, tax preparation service accounts, online stores, affiliate programs, other online accounts and similar digital items which currently exist or may exist as technology develops or such comparable items as technology develops, regardless of the ownership of the physical device upon which the digital item is stored.
Sample Language To Use When Naming A Supporting Executor
If you don't want to name a separate Digital Executor but you do want someone who's tech-savvy to help your primary Executor settle your digital estate, you can name someone to assist your Executor in handling your digital assets.
I authorize my executor to engage [NAME OF TECH-SAVVY PERSON] to assist in accessing, handling, distributing and disposing of my digital assets.
You can also use this language to name more than one supporting Executor. For example, if you'd like to name one person to handle personal digital property and another person to handle business-related digital property, you can include language such as:
I authorize my executor to engage [NAME OF TECH-SAVVY PERSON] to assist in accessing, handling, distributing and disposing of my Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram accounts. I authorize my executor to engage [NAME OF ANOTHER TECH-SAVVY PERSON] to assist in accessing, handling, distributing and disposing of my Google AdSense account, affiliate accounts, and LinkedIn profile.
This sample language was drafted by Jean Gordon Carter in collaboration with Evan Carroll and John Romano. It is used with permission from the authors. For more information on digital estate planning visit Digital Estate Resource.