We live in a digital age. More and more of our business, financial, and personal lives are managed and housed online. As the digital age keeps progressing, questions arise regarding ownership and management of those assets after an individual dies or becomes incapacitated.
Assets in question can include:
- Email accounts
- Digital music and videos
- Software licenses
- Social networking accounts
- Online financial accounts
After a death, accounts need to be closed. Automatic payments need to be stopped. Other tasks must be completed to ensure that loose ends are tied up in the virtual world.
Logistical complexities can add to the task. Files can be stored in numerous locations: Smart phones, computers, USB drives, external hard drives, on the cloud, etc. Social media sites and websites each have their own terms of service governing access to accounts after a person dies.
Facebook users, for example, are given two options: memorializing or permanently deleting the account. Facebook also allows users to designate a "legacy contact" who can post a funeral announcement on the deceased's wall. However, that person is not allowed to log into the deceased's account or read his or her private messages.
Can An Estate Plan Address Digital Assets?
Yes. An individual can customize an estate plan to address what happens to digital assets in the event of death or incapacitation.
A personal representative is named in a will, but that person may or may not have the knowledge or skills necessary to manage digital assets. In these cases, an individual may name a digital fiduciary to manage digital assets.
For an individual looking to plan ahead for the management of digital assets, it is advisable to keep inventory of digital files, passwords, accounts, and other information. This is especially true in the case of passwords, as account access will not be possible without. This can help ensure a smooth transition as a personal representative or digital fiduciary assumes his or her role.
Your estate plan can be customized to protect your digital assets. It is advisable to talk to an estate planning attorney who can discuss your specific options, to put your digital property protection plan in place.
Contact Korshak & Associates, P.A., at 407-680-1471 to set up a time to meet with an attorney.