Your bricks and mortar, cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and tangible personal property aside, do not forget to plan for your "digital" assets. Over the past few years I have written about the need to plan for your "digital" assets. However, this remains a dynamic practical and legal consideration for every estate plan.
So, have you made plans for your digital assets?
Sidebar: Had made I posed that same question fifteen years ago, would you know what I was talking about?
I mean digital assets are the fingers on the ends of our hands and the toes on the ends of our feet, right? You know, the digits that can be "real assets" when it comes to "ciphering" like Jethro Bodine on the Beverly Hillbillies sitcom each week.
Today, we know that digital assets include online accounts, to include bank accounts, social media accounts, and photography accounts. In fact, think of these as part of your digital estate.
A recent kcra.com report, titled Have you planned your digital afterlife?, reminds us that your digital estate can cause real headaches for grieving loved ones when they attempt to access those accounts.
Question: Have you made a list of your accounts and passwords? If yes, have you let your trusted loved ones know where they can find them?
Once you have made that list and shared the location, do a little digging on the institutional policy of the each online service regarding actions taken when an account holder dies.
Here are how Google and Facebook handle postmortem access protocol:
- Google offers an option whereby trusted contacts can access a user account or to have the data deleted after a specific periods of inactivity.
- Facebook recently started the “legacy contact” option, which lets their users select someone to manage their pages after death. If a user does nothing, and Facebook discovers that the individual has passed, his or her posts will remain active and “memorialized” according to that user’s settings.
As the original article notes, it is important for you plan ahead and put someone in charge of your digital assets postmortem.
While you are at it, your digital estate planning should include your digital devices, like cellphones and laptops, along with the data they contain. Pictures, music, videos, and documents make up our digital life, too. Make sure you are prepared to pass those on as desired.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help guide you through this process.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: kcra.com (February 27, 2015) Have you planned your digital afterlife?