Estate Planning: Protecting Your Digital Assets

Now that 2013 is here and before “spring cleaning” starts, it is a good time to give some thought to the year ahead. This includes, like it or not, thinking of your estate. If you have an estate plan, this letter will still be thought-provoking. If you do not have an estate plan, then you should contact our office to discuss your personal situation.

This is a brave new world we live in. The ubiquitous presence of the internet, social media and an array of websites that we access on a daily basis is ever-growing. And, this trend will only continue to expand as the years pass. The digital world intrudes on our lives in many ways, raising new legal questions and leaving us to scramble for the answers. It is hard enough for each of us to keep track of our passwords, usernames and accounts when we are healthy. How difficult will it be if we are not of “sound mind and body”?

Our digital world includes our financial accounts, bill payments, insurance and medical records, and much more. What about our extensive libraries and collections of electronic books, movies, music and photographs? What happens to your online accounts, computer files and other “digital assets” when you die or become incapacitated? More importantly, what do you want to happen to them? Should your Facebook account be deleted? Can a survivor access your e-mail and other online accounts? How much of a digital mess will we leave for our survivors, both at home and at work?

In a certain sense, you need to map what you do in real–world estate planning to the digital world. The party who is responsible for carrying out your estate plan may likely need significant assistance and information in order to carry out your wishes regarding your “digital assets.”

If you have questions regarding this subject matter or any other legal concerns, please contact me at your convenience. I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013!



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