In our recent guide, we explained how digital vaults have become a popular solution for securing our digital assets and data. This is because they provide ease of access while offering bank-level security through encryptions and authentications. With so much of our information online these days, it provides peace of mind knowing we have everything stored in a safe and secure place. This then begs an important question: what exactly should you put in your digital vault?
The Ultimate Digital Vault Checklist
When you first establish a digital vault and are prompted to begin uploading information, you might falter. After all, when is the last time you took stock of just how many accounts, passwords, assets, and files you own? Chances are, you’ll be startled at how large of a digital footprint you’ve already built for yourself.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry - we’ve got your back. Here, we reveal our digital vault checklist in the context of planning your digital estate. That way, you can go through the list and feel assured that you haven’t forgotten anything important that should be included in your digital vault.
Here is the checklist, followed by a brief overview of each item:
Estate Planning Documents
Property Deeds & Titles
Forms of Identification
Email and Social Media Accounts
Cell Phone Passcode and Application Accounts
Cloud Storage Accounts
Utility and Service Provider Accounts
Loyalty Program Information
Photos, Videos & Documents
Cryptocurrency, NFTs & Digital Assets
Digital Vault Directory
1. Estate Planning Documents
First and foremost, make sure that all of your essential estate planning documents are in place. Here are the typical documents that estate plans commonly include. (A checklist within a checklist, if you will.)
Last Will and Testament
Revocable Living Trust
Durable Power of Attorney
Health Care Power of Attorney/Living Will
Digital Asset Trust
Letter of Intent/Instructions
Visit our Online Learn Center to find each of these estate planning documents explained in detail.
2. Property Deeds & Titles
Next, it’s helpful to run through the list of assets you have bequeathed to your beneficiaries. Think of any supporting documents that they would need to rightfully obtain ownership of the asset. For example, real estate is a common piece of property that is inherited through estate plans. Make sure your family has access to important documents such as property deeds and titles.
3. Insurance Policies
Be sure to include copies of insurance policies to prove coverage and insurance terms. There are many types of insurance, but some examples include life, medical, auto, and home insurance.
4. Forms of Identification
Although you’d need to retain the original hard copies, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to upload scanned copies of important pieces of identification. This includes birth certificates, passports, social security cards, and driver licenses.
5. Financial Accounts
Include a document that lists out all of your financial accounts. Be sure to include the following information:
Name of financial institution
Website for online account login page
Username and Password
Any special access instructions
Checking and savings accounts are the most common, but don’t forget investment accounts, retirement savings accounts, credit card card accounts.
6. Email and Social Media Accounts
If you haven’t already, be sure to include instructions for how you’d like to have your email and social media accounts handled after you pass away. We have a guide detailing what happens to social media accounts after death, along with the policies for major platforms. You often need to turn on certain settings to allow for your executor/Power of Attorney to access and control your accounts after you’re gone. Your digital vault is a great place to store an inventory of your accounts, usernames, and passwords to help with the process.
7. Cell Phone Passcode and Application Accounts
It may be easy to forget, but much of our digital lives also live on our smartphones. Include your smartphone access code, along with an inventory of your smartphone applications, usernames and passwords. This is especially important if you have any subscription-based accounts, so that your executor can cancel them for you.
8. Cloud Storage Accounts
The average American adult likely has at least one type of cloud storage account. Google Drive and Apple iCloud are prominent examples of cloud storage that many people use to upload day-to-day files, documents, and photos. Make sure that someone can access your accounts by providing your usernames and passwords. It’ll be helpful if you also include notes on what are stored on these cloud-based drives.
9. Utility and Service Provider Accounts
Next, include an inventory of all of your utility and service providers and your account information. This could include home utilities, as well as services you might use for your personal life and business. Keeping a detailed list will help your Power of Attorney notify each of your service providers of your death and cancel each account so that future charges do not affect your estate. Don’t forget online subscriptions and marketplaces, such as Netflix and Amazon.
10. Loyalty Program Information
This category is one of the easiest to forget, but they can be of great value and are worth bequeathing to a loved one. For example, you might have ramped up a sizable number of frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty program points, and credit card purchase points by the time your estate is passed on. Member numbers are notoriously hard to find and remember, so be sure to include a document with an inventory of programs, your membership number, and account login information.
11. Photos, Videos & Documents
Family photos, videos, and documents are some of the most precious memories you can pass on to your family. Be sure they don’t get lost by properly organizing them and making a plan on how to pass them on. You might choose to upload files directly into your digital vault, or include instructions on how to access a separate cloud storage account storing these files.
12. Cryptocurrency, NFTs & Digital Assets
Investing in cryptocurrencies and other types of digital assets has become commonplace, so much so that there’s a new wave of crypto millionaires. There are few laws and formal practices on how to pass on this new type of wealth, so it’s a good idea to leave instructions that are as detailed as possible. In our Crypto-Wills guide, we included information on how to properly pass on cryptocurrencies to your beneficiaries. We also recommend including an informational document that describes what cryptocurrency is, how it works, and how to access it.
13. Digital Vault Directory
Last but not least, we highly recommend including a directory for your digital vault. You might think of it as a cover letter or table of contents that provides an at-a-glance list of everything you’ve included in your digital vault. Your POA and family members will have a much easier time navigating its purpose and its contents.
Use a Digital Vault to Enhance your Estate Plan
Protecting your assets and digital legacy is important, so there's no better time to tighten up the notch on your account security and protect yourself from data breaches caused by weak or reused passwords. 1Password offers a solution to this problem. With 1Password, all you need to remember is one master password. With this master password, you can access your password manager, which safely stores all of your online accounts and passwords. Consider setting up a master password with 1Password as you're putting together all your accounts for your digital vault.
Feeling overwhelmed by the size of your digital vault checklist? We totally get it! One might think that the tricky part of estate planning is the legal aspect, but it’s oftentimes the process of taking inventory of every item that should be included in your estate. The average American adult owns hundreds of online accounts, and it can be a painstaking process to gather all of this information. Nonetheless, it’s a critical piece that helps you make sure that your hard-earned assets and property can be passed on to your loved ones with ease.
You can think of your digital vault as a tool that works in tandem with your estate plan. Your Will and/or Trust documents your wishes for how you’d like to pass on your physical and digital estate. The digital vault itself will contain all of the practical information on how to access your accounts and digital assets in a central, secured place. This is a great solution that prevents you from having to update your estate plan any time you change any account information.
The good news is that we’re here to help! We’ve created a platform through which you can create your estate plan with ease. We’ll guide you through a series of prompts that help you select the type of estate plan that’s right for you, and help you understand everything that should be included in it. You’ll receive guidance every step of the way. Not only that, our service is affordable and easy! Once you’re committed, you could establish your first estate plan in as little as 15 minutes. Click here to see what all we have to offer and to get started.
This message contains marketing content and affiliate links to products or services. Trust & Will may receive commissions for purchases made through these links.