Back in the “old days”, before we had electronic devices and digital cameras, a person’s last wishes included all of their personal property. That may have included a box or two of photos of family and friends. Every family has a unique dynamic and a different person who emerges as the family historian or family storyteller. That person is the one who is always counted on at gatherings to take photos, videos and knows a bit about the history of the family. There is typically one in most families. So, who is preserving the history of your family? How is your history being preserved?
In today’s digital age, we are all history keepers. We record our lives every time we snap a photo from our smart phones or digital cameras. We record that moment in time when we log on to social media and upload our photos about ourselves, our children, parents, dogs, friends or co-workers. Who is preserving the history of your family? You are preserving the history of your family. Your friends and family and everyone else in your life that uses social media, cloud services or digital devices are preserving the history of your family.
How Do I Preserve My Memories For the Future?
When creating an estate plan, most people never consider their digital assets. Do you consider what media you own? Your music, movies, photos and more? Maybe you own an online business that contains your artwork? All of those items are your personal items. Each of these mean something to you or you wouldn’t have collected them, created them or purchased them. Everything you have downloaded, created and licensed belongs to you and can be passed down just like anything else in your will.
Just a few years ago Facebook created legacy pages. These are pages that can be set up to memorialize a person after he or she is gone. The page must be created by a designated person and set up in advance, however, this is a nice way for a legacy to carry on. The files that are on the social media account are still online and can be downloaded for the future.
In addition to Facebook, others are jumping onboard as well. Apple now allows you to set up a legacy person to access your account after you are gone. Many of us have purchased items through Apple, such as music, tv shows, movies and more. There is no need for that content to be lost.
What Type of Digital Assets Can Be Retained?
Think of the things you have online that can be passed on. Do you have digital purchases from Amazon? Photos that are in the cloud at a cloud sharing service such as OneDrive or Dropbox? You may be surprised at how many photos you have amassed over the course of your lifetime. These may include travel photos, photos of children, friends who have passed on and so forth. These are your legacy.
How To Begin Preserving The History of Your Family
The best way to start this process is to make a list of all of your electronic devices and locations that may contain important data. A simple method is to write these all down in a column structure with the name of the device or location on one side of the page and the contents on the other. Perhaps add the dates that these were added or the date you last added to this content. For example, you might do something like the following:
|Location of Data||Data||Date Last Added|
|ICloud (subscription)||Family, Travel and Business Photos||Synced daily|
|Amazon||Online Business||Managed Weekly|
|Etsy||Business Photos/Sales||Manually Added|
As you can see in the example above, this person has an online business where she sells on Amazon and Etsy. This may be something which should be included in the estate plan so it can be handed down and managed, or it could be that only the photos of the items are to be maintained.
The best way to include this in your over all plan is to provide your detailed information to your estate lawyer. You should look for an experienced estate attorney who will guide you to gather accurate information and help you along the way. You want someone who is versed in up to date laws and can answer your questions.
When you are ready to work on your estate plan, including your digital assets, contact Jason Ebacher. With years of experience working with clients to create the right plans, he can guide you on the right path to help begin preserving the history of your family and so much more.