Retirement Benefits

Preserving Your Digital Footprint: The Importance of Digital Estate Planning


You’ve checked off all the boxes when it comes to estate planning, but have you considered a digital will? We’ve gathered a few digital assets to consider and the steps to take to secure them.

Your CalPERS Information

CalPERS Special Power of Attorney

A CalPERS Special Power of Attorney allows you to designate a representative or agent, known as your attorney-in-fact, to conduct CalPERS business on your behalf. If you’ve set up a power of attorney document outside of CalPERS, you can send this document to us for review and we’ll determine if the language is acceptable to conduct business at CalPERS. If your power of attorney document doesn’t have a durability clause, it will cease to be valid when you become incapacitated.

Having a power of attorney form on file with us doesn’t give your attorney-in-fact access to your myCalPERS account. Although a power of attorney document may grant rights to digital logins, registered CalPERS members must acknowledge they’re the ones logging in. Electronic acknowledgements online only acknowledge member signatures, not attorney-in-fact signatures for members.

We cannot stress enough the importance of this form (PDF). If you become unable to handle your affairs before completing a power of attorney or other estate planning documents, we may find it necessary to withhold your retirement allowance until a court appoints a conservator to handle your affairs.

Your myCalPERS Account

When you log in to our secure services on myCalPERS, you’re acknowledging you’ve read and understand our security policy, and that you’re the CalPERS member of this account. Your password is your personal, confidential key to accessing CalPERS information online. You play an important role in making sure your confidential information is secure. To ensure your personal password remains secure, you should never reveal it to anyone.

If you believe someone without authorization has accessed your account, contact us at 888 CalPERS (888 225-7377) for help.

Digital Assets to Consider

Before getting started, it’s important to know that password managers can store a portion of your digital information in one place and can help you pass it along to your family and friends. They’re more secure than storing your passwords on slips of paper, which could be misplaced or stolen. If you don’t use this service already, now would be a great time to sign up.

Financial Accounts and Cryptocurrency

Provide your executor with a list of places you bank, as well as financial institutions where you have accounts. Some banks don’t have physical locations and are exclusively online. Bank accounts are highly protected, with good reason, and your executor will have to provide the necessary paperwork to access them. Check with your bank and financial institutions regarding their policies.

Cryptocurrency accounts can be more complicated since cryptocurrency is stored in a virtual wallet that requires a private key to open. Kiplinger offers a few solutions for how to manage this asset as you carry out your estate planning.

Consider digital wallets like Venmo, PayPal, and Apple Pay, too. Anything that stores your bank information should be at the top of your executor’s list of items to address.

Shopping and Subscription Accounts

These accounts store personal information like your address and credit card number; therefore, it’s best to handle them promptly to prevent potential fraud. If you share the accounts with loved ones at the same address, and they want to retain access, have them update the accounts. If you’re the sole user of the accounts, have your power of attorney deactivate and delete the accounts. Ensure that subscriptions like meal kits, autorenewal shipments, rewards programs, or subscription boxes are canceled first.

Social Media Accounts

Have you thought about what to do with your social media accounts after your passing? Facebook allows you to designate a legacy contact, while Instagram will memorialize or remove the account pending sufficient legal proof. Twitter will work with the designated power of attorney to deactivate and delete accounts for incapacitated or deceased individuals. LinkedIn offers the option to memorialize or delete accounts to the person acting on your behalf. It’s recommended to reach out to customer support for TikTok and other social media platforms.

Photographs and Documents

People store a variety of photos and documents on digital devices. Some of this information may be backed up to the cloud, and some of it may be housed on a single device. Let those handling your estate know ahead of time what’s stored where and your wishes regarding that information. Some documents, like tax records, need to be kept for seven years after your passing. Other items can be deleted right away.

Remember, your executor will need to go beyond just deleting sensitive information. Personal computer hard drives and smartphones should be wiped clean.

Cloud Storage and Email

Let your executor know if you use cloud storage, file hosting services like Dropbox, and email accounts. Apple allows you to name a legacy contact who will have access to your account. Google allows you to determine what happens to your data after you pass. You can either have the account be deleted after a certain amount of inactive time or set up an inactive account manager. Once you log in to your Google account, select Data & Privacy and access Make a plan for your digital legacy. Inform your executor of what to do with those accounts once you pass.

Since digital assets don’t have a physical presence, they can be easily forgotten during the estate planning process. Planning ahead and notifying your loved ones of your wishes can offer them, and you, peace of mind in this uncertain world.