When going through the estate planning process many individuals, whether they reside in Florida or elsewhere, may not think about their digital assets. Even though most Americans live in a world where more things are being done and stored online, few people seem to think about how such assets are to be passed on to beneficiaries. Believe it or not, separate protections need to be put in place in order to ensure that heirs are legally allowed to gain access to digital assets.
It was recently reported that a woman won her fight against Apple, and she has been given the right to gain access to her deceased husband's Apple ID. Her husband passed away in August 2015, and all of his property was granted to her as per what was written in his will. According to Apple, though, this did not include rights to his digital information, so the company refused to give the decedent's password, which was needed in order for the woman to use what is now her iPad.
The woman and her daughter contacted Apple numerous times over a two-month period, and, despite their ability to give the device's serial number, a certificate of death and copy of the will, Apple refused to budge. According to the company, the information would not be released without a court order. However, after the story went public, Apple has reportedly agreed to resolve the situation without the need for legal action.
Including digital assets in one's estate plan can help beneficiaries avoid the hardships this woman endured while trying to gain access to her deceased husband's password. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able ensure all online accounts and passwords are documented appropriately. Any further legal steps required in Florida that may be necessary to grant beneficiaries access to digital information can also be taken.
Source: Fox News, "Widow wins battle with Apple over deceased husband's password", James Rogers, Jan. 19, 2016