A Digital Executor does not replace a traditional Executor, but serves in a complementary capacity. In many states, a Digital Executor may not be legally recognized, so it's a good idea to check with a local estate attorney to learn about the laws around digital estate planning in your state.
What Does A Digital Executor Do?
A Digital Executor's job depends on what you want done with your digital property after your death. These tasks can include:
- Archiving personal files, photos, videos, and other content you've created
- Deleting files from your computer or other devices, or erasing devices' hard drives
- Maintaining certain online accounts, which may include paying for services to continue (such as web hosting services)
- Closing certain online accounts, such as social media accounts, subscription services, or any accounts that are paid for (such as Amazon Prime)
- Transferring any transferrable accounts to your heirs
- Collecting and transferring any money or usable credits to your heirs
- Transferring any income-generating items (websites, blogs, affiliate accounts, etc.) to your heirs
- Informing any online communities or online friends of your death
How Do I Name A Digital Executor?
Like a traditional Executor, a Digital Executor can be appointed in your Will. Most Wills are essentially standard templates that allow you to "fill in the blanks" of your personal preferences: Executor, guardian for minor children, beneficiaries, etc. A Digital Executor is a fairly new concept, and so many will "templates" may not yet include naming a digital executor as a necessary decision. In addition, many states do not yet recognize the legal authority of a Digital Executor, so it's a good idea to speak with a local estate attorney about the laws in your state.
What If My State Doesn't Legally Recognize Digital Executors?
At this time, most state's don't formally recognize digital estate plans, including Digital Executors. However, this shouldn't stop you from creating a digital estate plan and figuring out who you'd like to carry out that plan. At the very least, this will give your family a sense of what digital assets and property you have, and what you'd like done with it all.
You may also name a Co-Executor in your Will, which is one way of legally designating a Digital Executor. To learn more about this see our article Naming Co-Executors.
Naming A Digital Executor With An Estate Attorney
If you are working with an attorney to craft your Will, tell him or her that you'd like to create a digital estate plan and name a Digital Executor in your Will. Your attorney will help you craft the necessary language to include in your Will.
Naming A Digital Executor With An Online Legal Service
If you are creating a Will with an online legal service, naming a Digital Executor may require a little more work. Some online legal services have amended their forms to allow you to name a Digital Executor, such as Rocket Lawyer. If you're interested in working with an online legal service and naming a Digital Executor, make sure the company's forms allow you to do so. You may also want to speak with a local estate attorney to check on your state's laws, as some states do not yet recognize digital executors.
Naming A Digital Executor If You've Already Created Your Will
If you've already created a Will and didn't initially name a Digital Executor but would like to do so now, you can either re-write your Will or create a codicil to amend your will. Many attorneys and online legal services will help you create a "Codicil to Will," which is both legally binding and much less expensive than re-writing your Will entirely.