When California residents think of estate planning, they probably call to mind wills, powers of attorney and trusts. Now, the electronic age requires consideration of what will happen to digital assets when the owner dies.
Digital assets include such items as email accounts, social media accounts, websites, internet store accounts, cloud storage services and frequent flyer miles. The start of digital estate planning is to make an inventory of these assets. Included with the inventory of items should also be login IDs and passwords. It is imperative that these be stored in a safe place to protect against undesired access. An easy way to do this inventory is for the owner to note each time he or she logs into a different site over a period of time.
The next thing for the planner to do is to ask a technology-savvy and trusted friend or family member to be the manager of the idigital properties. The digital asset manager should be named in the will and have access to all the necessary accounts, and the owner should document the desired disposition of each item. If it is wished to leave a digital message behind, the digital asset manager could also be directed when and for whom it should be played.
A digitally-enhanced world may make some things like communications easier, but it also adds another layer to estate planning to assure digital assets wind up where the owner wants them to be when he or she dies. An estate planning attorney may be able to advise a client on the various methods of administration of this type of property.
Source: The Motley Fool, "How to Prepare Your Digital Assets for Death", Daryl Paranada, March 09, 2014