Seven percent of American adults use the Internet. In this digital world, many of our important personal and financial assets are stored online. So what happens to this information when you die?
Including digital assets in estate planning is a new concern for both consumers and their attorneys – and something that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you don’t include your digital assets in your will, your family may never know where to find your property.
Today, information that is important to an estate administration after a person becomes incapacitated or dies is commonly stored electronically and can only be accessed by using the person’s username and password.
For example, financial information regarding bank accounts, recurring expenses, insurance, and debts are tied to the user. If those files cannot be found or accessed quickly, it can have negative
nancial effects on the estate.
On the other hand, social networking accounts and personal Web pages generally don’t have financial value, but may have sentimental value and are cherished by family and friends.
When including digital assets in your will, you should specifically grant your fiduciary/executor access in your will by including an enhancement in your estate plan that states your fiduciary has your authorization and lawful consent to access your online accounts and data in the event of your incapacity or death. This should help you access the contents of online accounts through the service providers.
Your will should include a complete list of your online accounts
- List of all computers, phones, tablets, etc. Include their user names and passwords for each device.
- List all of your email addresses with passwords
- Social networking websites: List the username and passwords to each of your social networking profiles and how you want your account managed or deleted in the event your death or disability.
- List all of your blogs, webpages and domain names and indicate the registrar/host for each.
- List each bank and brokerage account for which you have online access, and indicate your username and password for each account.
- If you take photos digitally, describe where you store your photos, list any photo sharing websites that you use, and indicate your username and password for each site.
- List any other online accounts or digital information that may be important or valuable and describe what you would like to happen to that account.
- Confidentiality: If there is any sensitive information in the online accounts listed that you want to keep secret from certain family and friends, you should indicate how that information should be handled. This is critical, especially if you are living a double life and have a secret family. 🙂
As with most things… it is not as simple as I just made it sound. Your family or fiduciary may not be able to get immediate access to your digital assets. Who owns the assets, how they will be used etc. is all outlined in the sites/services Terms of Service. Check out this website for some Terms of Service for some sites.