Your mother has entered hospice care, and she is declining quickly. Suddenly there are a million questions you are supposed to have answered in advance: Is there a will? What should we do with the house, the china, the dog? Most of them involve money, beloved objects, or family history, but in the digital age, there are also less tangible assets we almost never think about.
Like most Americans, our loved ones will most likely access more than two dozen password-protected sites on different computers and smartphones, storing and sharing the vulnerable, mundane, and whimsical details of life while connecting with family and friends. The average American values his or her digital assets, such as photo libraries, personal communication, and entertainment files, at about $55,000, a value based on sentimental attachments as well as financial investments in music, applications, and software. As we plan for inheriting the house and family keepsakes, we must include our digital lives, as well. And, as we help our parents plan, we need to take care of our own digital presence.