Many of my clients are surprised by just how invested they really are in the online world when we discuss estate and wealth planning. It is not just our social network that gets us online; we bank, invest, pay bills, buy and sell items, store our photos and videos, create huge libraries of music, too. Some clients also maintain blogs and websites, both personally and as part of their business.
So, what happens to your online presence when you die? Should you and your estate planning attorney include “digital assets” in your overall planning? These are the questions that I recently discussed with Peter Dunn on the “Pete the Planner Radio Show” on 93.1 WIBC. Below are a few items to consider when including digital assets into estate planning.
How can you and your estate planning attorney include “digital assets” in your overall planning?
The first step in dealing with your online presence is to make a list of all online accounts. This master list should included passwords, usernames, screen names, handles, web addresses and any other identifying attribute. If you have a password security “lock box,” include the key code on this list as well. This document should be kept with your most important documents in a secure place.
Next, make sure that those trusted individuals that you would involve in estate planning know where to find that all important documents and information. Just like you would make sure the person named as your executor, personal representative, or trustee in your will and planning documents would know where to find those key documents in the event of your death, remember to include your online presence information. Estate and wealth planning attorneys will typically solicit information regarding your online presence during the planning process. The attorney also will have fireproof and secure storage.
What happens to your online presence when you die?
In the planning documents you should consider specifically giving your executor or personal representative the authority to deal with your online presence, such as closing out accounts, terminating links, capturing or preserving “digital assets” stored in the cloud, obtaining funds held in online accounts, just as your representative would do with your non-virtual assets. This is important because an unattended online account can be a target for virtual hijacking or exploitation.
Be sure to include your “digital assets” in you overall estate and wealth planning. These assets may be just as important to your loved ones as the more traditional assets.
Stream the entire "What happens to your Facebook after you die?" segment by clicking below.
Click here to listen to the video