Estate Planning with Digital Assets

In today’s online and social media age, have you ever considered what would happen to your Facebook, Twitter or other online profiles and accounts if you died or became incapacitated? Who would be able to access your bank accounts? Would your probate Executor or Power of Attorney Agent be granted authority to access your online information?

Digital assets can consist of the following:
• pictures and videos (Instagram, Flicr, Picasa, You Ttube, Vimeo, etc.)
• document accounts and files (Google docs, Word, Excel, etc.)
• email accounts (Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, etc.)
• websites, domain Names, blogs and web hosting accounts
• music (Amazon, iTunes, etc.) and books (Kindle, etc.)
• social networking accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.)
• computer devices and associated accounts
• online banking, shopping and bill payment accounts

The topic of digital assets has become a subject for increasing debate and importance over the past several years. The laws tend to lag behind technology and the situation is further complicated because service providers have their own terms of service and policies which are not necessarily uniform in the industry. This creates a dilemma for all of us who have online accounts and identities. Until the laws catch up with technology, here are two things you can do to safeguard your digital assets:

• Make a comprehensive inventory of your digital assets and accounts, passwords, usernames, identifying information, security questions and other pertinent information. Update your list periodically and protect the privacy and security of the list.
• Mention your digital assets to your Estate Planning Attorney. Include digital asset powers in your estate planning documents (such as your Will and Power of Attorney) to address who can access and control your digital assets upon your death or incapacity.

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