How to Handle Digital Assets
While most people have a considerable amount of “digital assets” (such as email accounts, social media accounts, photos, videos, personal and professional websites, iTunes/music accounts, YouTube channels and blogs), federal legislation regarding digital property does not exist.
As a result, the states are left to create their own rules and regulations to permit access to manage online accounts after an owner has passed away. While most states rely on the terms and conditions of a particular website to dictate how the digital asset is to be handled, there has been some forward momentum at the state level by allowing executors to access certain digital assets. Rather than relying on state law, you can take matters into your own hands and create your own digital estate plan to the process for your family members and grant them the legal authority to access your digital assets.
As part of creating a digital estate plan to protect and preserve digital assets we suggest the following:
(1) Prepare an inventory of your digital assets. This includes bank accounts, investment accounts, credit card accounts, passwords, tax returns, domain names, social media accounts, bitcoin accounts, photo and other storage accounts, e-book and music collections, blogs, YouTube channels, Google AdWord accounts, etc.
(2) Designate successor agents to your accounts through a particular service provider’s procedures or by way of a formal designation in your estate plan, and/or
(3) Consider backing up your online information with paper copies or other downloadable means (such as a flash drive, computer file, external hard drive, or CD).
This can be done by including authority to access digital assets in your Power of Attorney and Last Will and Testament. Contact us today to learn more about digital assets and planning for your digital afterlife.