Your heirs may find themselves facing some problems that are difficult to solve, if your digital assets are not organized, according to the White Mountain Independent in “Is your ‘digital estate’ in order?” Among the problems, is the chance of hackers trying to obtain your assets.
Here is a list of your personal accounts that may be online:
- Financial accounts: banking, brokerage, bill-paying utilities;
- Virtual property: credit card points, frequent flyer miles, cryptocurrency;
- Business accounts: eBay, Amazon, Etsy; stock photo accounts;
- Email accounts: Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo;
- Social network: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram; and
- Online digital storage: Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud.
Those are many assets to protect. Where do you start?
First, create an inventory. Use the categories above or create your own. However, you should make it organized.
Document your wishes for how you want your digital assets to be managed. If you don’t specify this, you may be leaving a wide-open arena for long legal battles. Your heirs and beneficiaries may never gain access to them. Hackers might go after them and use your identity. Your heirs may also have to engage in an expensive and protracted battle with a social media giant with costs eating into their inheritance.
Name a digital executor in your will. This is a relatively new area, but you can name a person to be your digital executor. Not all states recognize this position, so you’ll want to speak with a local estate planning attorney to find out what the laws are in your state.
You will also need to go through all of your online accounts and learn what each platform requires, in the instance of the account owner’s death.
Review your plans, especially as you add new digital assets.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances, including your digital accounts.
The attorneys and team at Nickerson Law Group help families with estate planning, probate, guardianship, and special needs trust planning in Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lakeway, Bee Cave, Dripping Springs and the central Texas area. For more information and to learn about our firm, visit Nickerson Law Group’s website. www.estateplanningaustintexas.com
Reference: White Mountain Independent (Oct. 26, 2018) “Is your ‘digital estate’ in order?”