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Including Digital Assets in Your Estate

Email, social media accounts, online shopping accounts, and even your online store credit can all be considered digital assets. Often these assets may include financial and personal data, which should be kept safe. If you do not make provisions for your digital assets, your survivors may be caught up in red tape, or worse, as they take care of your accounts, or worse. Here’s what you should know about including digital assets in your estate.

Navigating Terms of Service Agreements

“I agree.” A short phrase, but it can cause havoc for your loved ones as they try to wrap up your estate. Many online services have clauses that forbid unauthorized access to your online account. After you are no longer able to provide authorization, your family may struggle to gain control of your accounts. As a user of these services, you will be bound by all terms of use, including these clauses. To combat this, more states are introducing laws that allow executors to manage digital properties.

Tips to Include Your Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

Even if you don’t live in a state with laws to allow executors to handle your digital properties, you can still take steps to protect your online presence after your passing. Here are some things to add to your estate planning checklist:

  • Create an inventory of your electronic data, including accounts, login information, and other relevant information. Update it regularly to ensure that your information will be there when it is needed. A password manager such as LastPass can help your executor by storing your login information securely. Then you will only need to provide a single password.
  • Use an online vault to store a copy of your estate planning documents, including a list of digital assets. DropBox or Everplans are secure resources, which can allow your estate planning team and executor to share files easily.
  • Write your digital assets plan into your estate planning documents. Include explicit language that lays out your executor’s responsibilities for your digital estate and your authorizations for them to have access to all your accounts.
  • Write a broad statement of intent, then layout specific directions for each account. Because it is possible to have hundreds of accounts, be sure that your statement of intent has language to address all accounts, past, present, and future.
  • Outline what may be done with your digital assets. Give permissions to access, read, delete, and distribute separately. You do not have to provide all-encompassing access to your executor. We can also include authorization for this access in your general power of attorney.

Backed by 30 years of combined experience, our Phoenix estate planning attorneys are here to answer your questions. Unique considerations like digital assets require careful preparations from lawyers who are familiar with the laws surrounding these issues. At Taylor & Lihn, PLLC, your future is our primary concern. Learn how we can help you prepare your estate plans.

Contact our legal team to request a free case evaluation by calling (602) 900-9860.

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