With modern technology comes a new class of assets, known as digital assets. They include online properties like a person’s Facebook page, an online file storage account, a blog, email accounts and other social media profiles. Unless a person includes these digital assets in a will and gives the beneficiaries access to logins and passwords, the contents of those sites that may include year’s worth of photographs, video, audio and written works could be deleted upon the account holder’s death.
The state of Delaware specifically passed legislation meant to assist fiduciaries of estates in their management of digital assets. With written requests, these authorized individuals can control digital accounts of a deceased person. However, the estate planning documents should specifically address and list the digital assets so that heirs and trustees can be aware of them.
Regardless of which state a person lives in, estate planning can include digital assets and assign their contents and possible future maintenance to others. The executor of the will should create a list of accounts, logins and passwords and store them in a safe place so that heirs can get them when the time comes.
Failure to mention digital assets within estate planning could possibly lead to a person’s heirs losing access to the digital records and files of the deceased. The companies and organizations where the digital assets are stored might eventually delete them after an account holder’s death if heirs cannot show their right to access them.
Estate planning commonly requires periodic updating as changes occur in a person’s life. An attorney familiar with estate planning might be able to assist a person who needs to document how to access digital assets and assign who gets to control them in the future.