The digital world impacts us all in many ways, and that includes your estate planning. If you are like me, it is hard enough to keep track of passwords, user names and accounts. Imagine how difficult it will be for our heirs to figure these out once we are no longer around.
In Cincinnati, we enjoy the convenience of online accounts, online bill payments, online shopping, social media accounts and much more. Many of us have libraries and collections of electronic books, music and other important documents in digital form with hard to decipher password protections.
Despite the arrival of the online age, post death administration procedures still focus on tangible property, not digital property. Have you considered what happens – or what you want to happen – to your online accounts, computer files and other “digital assets” when you die? Should your Facebook and other social media accounts disappear? Will your survivors know how to access these types of accounts?
To answer some of these questions, recently an article appeared on lawyers.com titled "What Happens to Your Facebook Account When You Die?" The article noted the importance of the license agreement you enter when you open account. When you sign up for an account you are agreeing on the terms of the license provided to use the account and many of us are not familiar with what the licenses provide. Become familiar with them and plan accordingly.
If you haven’t considered this issue before, here are a few suggestions for what you can do now:
1. Inventory your digital assets and accounts. Collect this information, including passwords, and make it avaiable in a way that someone can find and use them.
2. Decide if you want blogs, your social media accounts, websites or other Internet accounts to stay alive, and instruct your heirs on how to access key accounts quickly and easily.
3.. Revisit your estate plan to see if it includes your digital estate and identifies the right Executor/Trustee to handle these digital issues.
The collision of the tangible and digital world can produce surprising consequences and frustration for your heirs if you are not prepared. Take steps now to ensure a smooth transition of these assets.
If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this blog, see my estate planning website or contact Cincinnati attorney David H. Lefton at 513-399-PLAN (7526) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reference: lawyers.com (Februar3, 2012) "What Happens to Your Facebook Account When You Die?"