Celebrate Social Security's birthday by pledging to vote to protect it for current and future generations. Learn more
by Neal Walters, Public Policy Institute
Challenges and Opportunities in Managing Digital Estates (PDF)
In today’s Internet-connected world, people accrue vast amounts of digital assets. These include digital files (e.g., e-mails, photos, videos, and documents), as well as digital accounts (e.g., financial, business, social media, e-mail, retail shopping, and cloud storage). The digital assets left behind when an Internet user dies, or is no longer capable of managing his or her digital estate, forms the person’s digital legacy.
Managing one’s digital estate is an important issue for those connecting to the Internet. An AARP Public Policy Institute survey found that 6 out of 10 adult Internet users have not considered how they want to address their digital legacy. Even fewer said they had taken any action to prepare for the management of their digital legacy. More important, two-thirds indicated they were not concerned about addressing the issue of their digital legacy, and would not look for further information on this topic.
Consequently, people managing the estates of those who die or become incapacitated will face challenges identifying, recovering, and accessing the person’s digital assets. In many cases, the digital assets will be lost. The report identifies the potential barriers heirs could face and provides recommendations designed to help provide heirs legal access to digital content after death or incapacitation.
Find the public policy institute content you are looking for by entering in search terms below.
Sign up for alerts on the latest research, events and videos on policy issues.
A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers
By 2030, one out of every five people in the United State will be 65-plus. Will your community be ready?
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at