Common assets that are overlooked in most estate plans are digital assets. Nearly everyone today has some kind of online account. Whether it is online access to bank accounts, emails, photo albums, social media or shopping, all digital assets should be considered when creating a comprehensive plan.
Unfortunately, without the proper planning, digital assets can be very difficult to manage after a person dies. Most companies will only allow the family of a deceased person to close out accounts but they will not allow access to any of the information. Online photo albums and facebook profiles can be lost and all the information along with it. Email address and contacts will be inaccessible. This may all seem trivial until you need to gain access to one of these accounts and they are unobtainable.
As part of your estate plan, you should consider what you would like to happen with your digital assets when you pass away. Would you like to give access to your Successor Trustee or Executor? Would you prefer a family member or friend to handle them? Alternatively, would you like a third party to manage and close them?
Consider the following suggestions for all digital assets:
■ Tell your family about your wishes and give them an overview of the types of accounts you have.
■ Create a list of all your accounts along with usernames and passwords and include this in your estate planning documents.
■ Contact a company such as Entruted, Legacy Locker or DataInherit that will manage and distribute your digital assets when you pass away. Some can also send out messages to all your contacts and/or social media friends.
With so many users of online accounts and so little attention placed on them regarding estate planning, it is important to contact an estate planning attorney familiar with digital assets. The experienced attorneys at Burt + Clerc are happy to help you include these important assets in your estate plan.