Handling Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan
When preparing your estate plan it is very important to include a plan for your digital assets. Our on-line presence can outlive us and sometimes even take on a life of its own, and many of us don’t even realize that we have digital assets. They include not only email accounts, but also photos, Facebook and Twitter accounts; online bank and investment accounts; online shopping accounts that might hold credit card information; Google Docs, subscription and membership services, videos on YouTube and many others.
Many companies’ privacy policies make it very difficult for a third party to access a decedent’s accounts – and some even claim it is illegal to allow such access. California has adopted legislation, but estate planners still need to address the issue by including certain specific language in the account holder’s will giving the decedent’s executor the power to access, handle and dispose of his or her digital assets.