20:06 22 March in Estate Administration, Estate Planning




Many Central Florida residents have consulted with estate planning professionals and taken steps to account for the protection and distribution of assets held in bank, investment, and retirement accounts.  They are taking the initiative by ensuring that their estate is administered as they desire!  However, many people forget to include digital assets in their plan.  These assets must be protected, managed, and distributed just like any other asset, and it is important to account for them.

The Digital Age

The digital age presents many new responsibilities, opportunities, and challenges for both individuals and their heirs.  These can range from social media accounts to large sums of money held in PayPal accounts.  Many people simply do not realize how big their digital footprint is, and today a tremendous amount o personal and financial information is stored and shared online.  Social media, photo-sharing sites, e-commerce sites, and other file-sharing sites all offer people the opportunity to routinely share and conduct personal and business transactions digitally, and this information needs to be addressed in an estate plan.

The Issue At Hand

To protect a user’s privacy, websites like those listed above over security features to keep others out.  They often have strict policies with regard to accessing and sharing login and other relevant information.  While these kinds of measures are a benefit to individual account holders, they can easily become a hindrance to heirs who may attempt to access a loved one’s digital accounts.

In cases where an individual fails to include digital assets in an estate plan, heirs may be prohibited from accessing valuable sentimental and financial assets.  These can include family photographs and even frequent flyer accounts.

In addition to keeping a current list of all digital accounts complete with login and password information, an individual would also be wise to discuss with an attorney how to account for such assets in their estate planning documents.  Early planning can help in the avoidance of problems later down the road.

Contact Us For More Information On Estate Planning

Please feel free to contact our offices for more information on estate planning.  We would be happy to schedule you a free consultation with an estate planning attorney to discuss how you can best protect your legacy.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Estate Planning for Digital Assets,” Austin Kilham, May 11, 2014