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Protecting digital assets and family with estate planning tools

Most of us understand that a will or trust can determine where your physical property goes when you die. With those estate planning tools, you can decide how assets such as a house, vehicles, furnishings, a vacation home, a business and much more will be divided and distributed after you pass on.

But what will happen to digital assets when you pass? Things such as email, social media accounts, blogs, banking information, usernames and passwords. If these digital items are not included in your estate planning, it can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive for family members to access them, and the assets can in some cases become completely inaccessible or even cease to exist.

Almost everyone has online accounts of one kind or another, even if it is just to store and view photos and videos. While account holders are often careful to keep track of the accounts and passwords, the passwords are typically protected and often encrypted, which can mean the account will essentially be locked if the holder dies without providing access to the passwords.

A recent article on digital assets and estate stated that “many assume that it would be fairly easy for a family member or personal representative to gain access to online accounts after death, but this is usually not the case.”

An easy, straightforward way to avoid this problem is to simply grant access to the accounts within estate planning documents. That can be done with your estate planning attorney, who will include language in those documents that give consent to service providers to disclose the vital information to the people you designate.

You can discuss your digital assets and related issues with a Cocoa attorney experienced in all aspects of effective estate planning.

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