Digital assets can be organized into several categories:
- Computers and devices: content from desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones
- Email: content from incoming, sent, and stored messages
- Content from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others
- Online businesses including online stores, blogs, and websites, including PayPal, eBay and Etsy
- Multimedia content or other digital mementos from Shutterfly, Snapfish, Flickr, Instagram, and other digital content sites
What Happens to Digital Assets After Your Death?
As the digital world around us becomes a greater part of our everyday lives, we are faced with how to protect assets and pass on accounts after death. And even if all the required passwords are left behind, many heirs will find they have no clear authority to access or manage the online accounts of the deceased, a legal headache for those grieving a loved one. Online user agreements can be confusing and sometimes contradictory, and state and federal laws can restrict Internet users’ ability to transfer their online accounts to loved ones after their death. In many cases, an experienced estate planning lawyer will be the key to drafting an appropriate and complete will to manage all your assets after death.
How-to Protect Your Digital Estate
Choose a Digital Executor
A digital executor will be the person or online service that you choose to manage your digital assets after you are gone. Although we will usually want a close relative to have this personal information, it is important that the digital executor can understand and manage the technical aspects associated with digital assets of all kinds.
Choose Your Heirs
You may choose one or more heirs to whom you will leave your assets. Although user end agreements will dictate much of who can have access to your accounts, if you set up your will appropriately with an estate planning lawyer, you can decide who inherits your financial and sentimental digital assets.
Edit Your Data Collection
Although our digital world is relatively new, digital content can add up fast. Think about the data you have now, including hardware, software, files, online personal accounts, work information, personal information, and social media sites. Leaving behind a tremendous amount of data with no instruction on what to do with it can be overwhelming for a grieving loved one. Consider weeding through your digital assets once or twice a year and mark items that are special to you or leave behind instructions to help your loved ones along.
State Your Final Digital Asset Wishes in Your Will
Leaving instructions or suggestions behind for those dealing with your digital assets can be invaluable. Consider leaving instructions for notifications on social media sites, continuing or closing sites, important “Do Not Delete” items, and information you wish to be left behind or archived.
Give Appropriate Authority
Whiles some digital assets provide for an easy process of passing authority, some end user agreements are complicated. Finding estate planning lawyers who are experienced and knowledgeable in “digital estates” will be essential in certain cases.
The most important aspect of any portion of Estate Planning is to discuss your plans with your loved ones, and then carry out the plan with the guidance of your estate planning attorney. Contact the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher B Johnson today.