What Happens to Your Digital Assets When You Die?
After your death or in the event of your incapacity who has the authority to access, modify, control, archive, transfer or delete your digital assets?
Digital assets include your sent and received emails, email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Linked In, Amazon, Google and similar accounts. They are also games, digital music, digital photographs, digital videos, apps, avatars, software licenses, social-network accounts, file-sharing accounts, financial accounts, domain registrations, Domain Name System (DNS) service accounts, blogs, listservs, web-hosting accounts, tax-preparation service accounts, online stores and auction sites, online accounts and any similar digital assets that currently exist or may be developed as technology advances.
Where are Digital Assets Stored?
Your digital assets may be stored on the cloud or on your own devices, including but not limited to, your computer, your kindle, your tablet, smart phone or any other device. Often these assets are protected by user names and passwords.
Digital Assets and Your Estate Planning
Ten years ago your user agreement for most of these assets – which we know you read word for word – did not address who had the authority to act on your behalf if you were unable to. We have clients who have passed away but who still have facebook accounts because no-one has the authority to take them down.
Many of the user agreements now contain these provisions. Your estate planning documents, including your Will and Trust must include language giving your decision-makers the authority to access, use, and control your digital devices. With this authority they can access, modify, control, archive, transfer and delete your digital accounts.