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Data-driven lives may benefit from estate planning protections

People of all ages are acquiring digital assets at an increased rate. As lives become more data-driven, protections for these assets are becoming more important. Florida residents with any amount of digital assets may want to consider adding this valuable property in their estate planning efforts.

While not everyone makes money from what they post on the Internet, there are some who do make a great living from their online ventures. However, it isn't just property with monetary value that needs to be protected. Social media content, documents, photos and other intellectual property should also be secured. Without a contingency plan for these assets, beneficiaries may have to jump through some legal hoops to gain access to online property.

To add digital assets to an estate plan, it is always good to start by creating an inventory. This is a list of all digital accounts and their passwords. As this information changes, this document should also be updated to accommodate those changes. Along with an inventory, granting beneficiaries authorization to these accounts is also important. Digital assets are protected by the Stored Communications Act of 1986, which does not allow Internet service providers to give out personal information without appropriate authorization.

While some online data may seem of little significance, in the event of death, the ability of beneficiaries to access that data may prove useful. Spelling out wishes for online data in a will or trust, and granting appropriate authorization to heirs are good places to start in ensuring these assets will be taken care of. There is no doubt, that as Florida residents continue to accrue digital assets, the need to include this property in estate planning is becoming of vital importance.

Source:, " The latest wrinkle in estate planning: Digital assets", Darla Mercado, July 20, 2014

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