Estate Planning For Digital Assets is a hot topic in the legal world. Digital assets refer to things like financial accounts, social media profiles, and documents stored on your computer. Currently, the Uniform Law Commission, which drafts laws to be used in similar or identical form by all fifty states, has formed a committee to draft laws on this issue. The goal is to "vest fiduciaries with at least the authority to manage and distribute digital assets, copy or delete digital assets, and access digital assets." In other words, if you're managing another's estate, or their
Some people's digital assets may actually be quite valuable. For example, a famous author's last manuscript stored on her computer or a celebrity's social media accounts may actually be worth a great deal. But let's face it - we're not all Beyonce. You should still make plans for your digital assets, however, so whoever handles your estate can easily manage your financial accounts, close your social media accounts, and so forth.
Many aspects of digital asset estate planning can be done on your own. One of the easiest things you can do for digital estate planning is to make a list of your passwords and store it with your will. Be cautious, however, as some sites prohibit anyone other than you from accessing your account, even after death. You'll also want to look into the Terms of Service/policies for websites where you have accounts and see what their policies are regarding the death of the user. The linked article provides further great advice regarding backing up your digital assets.
I anticipate that the Uniform Law Commission's uniform law in this area will make things much easier for both estate planning and fiduciaries (the person given responsibility for these assets) in states where it is adopted, as it would create law authorizing a named person to manage digital assets after death. It would simplify this process greatly by allowing an individual to name a fiduciary in his will to manage digital assets.
Right now, however, digital estate planning is still complex, and wading through Facebook's Terms of Service can be challenging for someone without a legal background. If you need help making sure all of your digital assets are planned for properly, contact our Torrance estate planning attorney and our firm can help you.