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Cybersecurity Step-by-Step #10: Protect your Digital Legacy

Your financial well-being is our highest priority, and one of our goals for 2018 is to walk you through the necessary steps to protect your online data. To make it more manageable, we are sending you one new action item every month. If you missed the previous steps, we have listed them below with a link to the detail so that you can easily catch up.

Step Ten:  Protect your Digital Legacy – Name a Digital Fiduciary in your Estate Plan

Why? Most of us have accumulated a significant amount of digital property online, including personal and financial data, email, photos, and social profiles, that will need to be managed after we die. In an effort to protect your data and your privacy, most online service providers have very strict terms of service that restrict access to your digital assets. So, when it comes to passing on your digital legacy, handing over your password list is not enough to provide a trusted confidant with the legal authority to carry out your wishes after your death.

Fortunately, a new law known as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) has been adopted in most states (including California). This law allows you to give legal authority to a named digital fiduciary to manage your digital legacy. (Learn more about RUFADAA [1].)

Consult with your estate attorney to learn how you can incorporate this new development into your estate plan. You can also consider excluding specific information or online accounts that may not be appropriate.

Once you have named a digital fiduciary, some advance preparation will make the task more manageable.

Prepare a list of your online accounts and passwords. We strongly recommend using an online password manager (See Cybersecurity Step #4) because this can be time-consuming and difficult to keep current. Don’t forget to include the passcodes to your devices!

Prepare instructions. Be sure that your wishes are clear and in a safe place where they can be found. Keep in mind that your Will becomes a public document after your death, so be sure to keep your instructions and your passwords in a separate location.


List of Previous Steps:

Step One: Place a freeze on your credit history at the top three credit agencies.

Step Two: Update the operating software on your computers, tablets, and smartphones, and continue to update as new patches become available.

Step Three: File your tax returns as early as possible.

Step Four: Use unique passwords on every site (and try a password manager).

Step Five: Never (ever) email sensitive information and always insist on encryption.

Step Six: Avoid using public WiFi networks.

Step Seven: Monitor your financial activity.

Step Eight:  Avoid Spear-Phishing Scams.

Step Nine: Open your online “my Social Security” account now.

To review the previous steps, visit our blog [2].