Why Do You Need a Digital Estate Plan?
A digital estate plan accounts for digital assets that may not be factored into other parts of your plan. With a digital estate plan, you can make arrangements for what you want to happen to these unique assets at the time of your death. Laws regarding wills and probate are often very slow to change, so a digital estate plan can potentially address this issue without court intervention.
Digital assets are unique because they are not tangible or as easy to account for as other assets. Digital assets may consist of:
- Portable storage media
- Songs, videos, photos and electronic entertainment that is stored in an online account or in the cloud
- Digital documents
- Hardware such as computers, tablets and laptops
- Information stored electronically
- Works of art in digital form
- Domain names
- Online accounts, including email, social media accounts, shopping accounts and video gaming accounts
- Points accumulated in these various accounts
- Blogs or websites you manage
- Intellectual property
Digital estate plans can often ease the burden on family and friends after death. The executor may need access to critical information that is saved online, such as access to online banking or credit accounts. They can also ensure that the loved ones are aware of these accounts and know what should be done with them. Some digital assets may have monetary value and may need to go through the probate process.
Developing a digital estate plan
The first step is to identify all of your digital assets and decide how they should be managed. These decisions might involve whether you want your social media account memorialized, any embarrassing photos or videos deleted, and digital assets of monetary or sentimental value transferred to certain beneficiaries.
Your digital executor can make these decisions. This person can be your will’s executor or someone else of your choosing. Under the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, your executor or trustee has the right to access and manage your digital assets and electronic communication, so he or she may need the help of your digital executor to find your instructions and carry them out. Because your will becomes public in probate, you should not list usernames, passwords or other sensitive information in it but place them in a digital inventory that can be accessed when the time comes.
For help with your digital estate plan, contact an experienced estate planning lawyer at Epstein Law Firm in Chattanooga, serving clients in Tennessee and Georgia. You can call us at 423-265-5100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.