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Plymouth MN Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Digital Assets

What are Digital Assets / Virtual Estate Assets? How To Protect Them

Right now you are on the internet reading my law firm's blog. This is a digital asset of the firm. Who owns it? How is it protected? What about your accounts? Do you have an account on Google? Facebook? Twitter? So many of us have multiple online accounts and not only for social media but for our day to day banking, purchasing of products, music libraries, etc. Very few people have a database of passwords and other log-in information to access these accounts in case something happens to them and a successor trustee or power of attorney needs to access this information. These digital asset passwords or access keys assist your loved ones or fiduciaries in acting efficiently on your behalf if necessary. Without having these digital "keys", your family may have to get a court order to gain access to a decedent's accounts. Not only that, once you as the fiduciary gain access, you then have to make contact with the individual company (Amazon, iTunes, etc.) and getting such a corporation to accept your authority to act on behalf of the account and that can be difficult. This can be a time consuming and costly process not to mention extremely frustrating.

One simple solution would be to compile a list containing online accounts,the nature of the account, the username, password, and any other relevant data. Of course this information should be kept in a very safe place such as your in home safe or safety deposit box along with your estate planning documents.

Because most of us now have digital assets and will continue to accumulate more during our lifetimes, this should become part of your estate planning checklist. Even Google now offers users a proactive digital planning tool called the Inactive Account Manager. More can be read on this topic in the Wall Street Journal's April 11, 2013 article titled "Google Lets Users Plan 'Digital Afterlife' By Naming Heirs.

 


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