Digital Assets, Do They Disappear If You Are Not There?

We all know we live in an increasingly digital world, but have you ever given any thought to how your loved ones would access digital assets if you become incapacitated or pass away?

Digital Assets covers a broad range of assets and accounts.  Do you have on line access only to a bank or investment account?  Do you have your photos stored on line?  What about a Paypal account, or a Facebook account or credits on a virtual game?  All of these assets or accounts may be lost if your successors do not know about them.

We have encountered situations where assets are trapped with no access by family due to the inability to login and access them on-line.  Clients may not even be aware that the assets exist, and may not have any mechanism to determine if they have missed anything.  In addition, social media accounts and access to those accounts following incapacity or death is increasingly becoming a problem.

Consider the need to give your successor agents or trustees, or even family members, a list of logins and passwords to all of your accounts.  Security issues are clearly a concern, and one way to still have protection is to give the logins to one child and passwords to another.  Another is perhaps to utilize a password protection system and only leave the main password locked in a safe that a trusted family member can access.  Financial Powers of Attorney should now contain language to authorize access to these accounts, including the power to change login and password information.  We should also consider providing instructions to our agents as to what to do with our social media accounts when we pass away.

It is critical to keep a list of all digital assets, covering everything from investments, to photos to social media,  how they can be accessed and then keeping it up to date.  However, keeping that list solely in the computer may not provide any assistance as the family may be unable to access the computer.  Thus, ensure that a paper copy of the list of all digital assets has been printed and is maintained with your other estate planning documents.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.