What is a digital executor and why do you need one?
By Maplebrook Wills
26th Apr '19
Legacy Planning, Wills
When you get a will written, you’ll be asked to name your executors – people tasked with carrying out your instructions when you die.
Now wills written by Maplebrook Wills allow you to name digital executors as well as regular executors.
What is a digital executor?
A digital executor is someone responsible for distributing your digital assets. They include photos, emails and social media – anything for which you need an online account.
Naming digital executors is a relatively new idea. Not long ago, all our photos and writings were physical objects that we stored around the house. Now, these – plus other assets like videos – are likely to be online.
Simply giving your login details and passwords to a family member or friend isn’t enough on its own. Naming them as a digital executor in your will gives them the legal authority to act on your behalf.
What do they do?
One of the tasks of a digital executor is likely to be dealing with social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram among others. Typically, digital executors notify social media platforms about your death. Your accounts can then be memorialised – if such a function exists – or closed.
In addition, they’ll deal with subscription accounts such as Amazon Prime, Spotify or Netflix, as well as any websites or blogs you published. Income-generating activity, such as affiliate schemes, will need to be closed or changed to a different bank account, in accordance with your wishes.
A digital executor may also download photos and videos and distribute them to your family and friends.
Who should you choose?
While you don’t need to name a separate digital executor, it’s helpful if you are very active online. That’s because other executors are likely to be busy sorting out bank accounts and other financial affairs. Having someone else deal with online accounts removes some of the stress for them.
As with any other executor, before you name a digital executor in your will, you should make sure that person is reliable and happy to carry out the role. Plus, they should be comfortable using computers and going online.
It’s best to send them a list of online accounts, complete with usernames, separately. That way, it’s easier for them to contact companies to request your data.