Addressing digital assets in an estate plan

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2021 | Estate Planning |

When a person passes away, his or her executor is required to complete an inventory of their assets. Several years ago, this may have been more straightforward because there were fewer digital assets to account for.

People increasingly conduct business online, use electronic banking services and may not retain paper copies of their important documents. In addition, they may have a social media account, digital files and photos that the executor will need to access and manage.

Online platforms and digital files

A person’s will or trust may need to provide specific permission for the executor to access, manage and close online accounts. Otherwise, each online platform could have discretion to decide what happens to the person’s information after their death.

His or her account credits, frequent flier points and cryptocurrency could be transferrable to their beneficiaries. However, movie and music libraries, apps and email accounts may not be transferrable because the person may only be a user, not an owner of the information. It may be helpful to address this in the estate plan.

Online businesses

It’s not uncommon that a person may operate his or her business entirely online, including keeping employment and customer records electronically. It’s helpful to authorize the executor to access and manage this information to ensure any debts can be addressed, employees can be paid and customers can be informed of the future of the business.

Digital technology continues to evolve and digital assets are property that should be accounted for in an estate plan. The estate plan can then be updated as needed to account for any changes to those assets.

 

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