Alongside your earthly remains, there will be digital remains that your family members and estate executors will have to contend with after you are gone. The term “digital assets” refers to personal information that is stored electronically on either a computer or an online “cloud” server account that belongs to an individual. Anyone who uses e-mail, makes online purchases, or pays bills online has digital assets.
What will happen to your email account when you die? Do you have an Instagram, twitter, or facebook account? What about PayPal, cryptocurrency and Venmo? Who will be able to access your on-line bill pay or automatic payments from your bank accounts? As digital assets have become more common, it is important to include them in your estate plan.
Even if your heirs have all the necessary passwords, they may not have legal authority to access or manage your online accounts. Those user agreements that we all sign are confusing and state and federal laws restrict access to transfer online accounts or collect information stored on a device or elsewhere in the digital world. Many terms of service state that you can’t transfer your account or hand off your password to anyone else. Those restrictions pose a challenge for heirs who might want to access your e-mail account, for example, to retrieve bills and other documents.
Although it will take some effort to gather all the details, it is essential to include your digital assets in the estate planning process. If you fail to do so, your loved ones may have difficulty settling your final bills. You might also be surprised at the value of your digital assets. A library of digital music or an Internet domain name that you own may have significant financial value. In addition, all those photos and videos that mean so much to you now will be even more meaningful to your loved ones after you’re gone.
Some providers are starting to help users plan their digital afterlife. You can look at the terms of service for your email provider to determine if there are rights that you can give to heirs. Use this worksheet to record all of your digital assets by category. Then keep it in a safe place or share it with your family members and other trusted advisors who would need to have this information. To access a digital assets worksheet please click on the link: https://audradehanlaw.com/2020/02/06/most-colorful-personalities-and-powerful-institutions-as-well-as-original-commentary