In today’s digital world, it is vital to consider virtual goods when creating an estate plan. Who gets the photographs and the email accounts stored online? Who is left in charge of Facebook accounts or virtual awards, prizes and accounts? These things can be very important to the loved ones left behind after a death.
Many digital assets have great value – whether it be sentimental, commercial or monetary. If digital assets are not included in the estate planning, it can lead to difficult and painful emotional issues for relatives attempting to cope with the death of a loved one.
Avoid the potential issues by deciding now how to handle your electronic possessions in your estate planning. Many accounts and services already offer helpful tools and services to assist their users in this arena. Google users can access their service, Inactive Account Manager, to make specific designations regarding how to deal with data stored online with the company after their last login, including: Gmail email accounts, photo storage, YouTube videos, blogs, etc. The process is straight forward, allowing you to designate a time period of “silence” prior to treating the account as officially inactive. Users are able to designate up to 10 names for notification when the company deactivates that account or they have the option to simply delete all information.
Google’s Inactive Account Manager is just one of many tools that companies are now providing to their users to assist them in including their digital assets in their estate planning.
Others find online safe deposit boxes helpful when planning your digital legacy. They provide a safe location to stow passwords to email accounts and other data. One example of this type of tool is SecureSafe where users can store up to 50 passwords, use 10 megabytes of storage and designate one beneficiary. The services are provided free of charge with premium services available for those who need more storage space, more password storage or the ability to designate additional beneficiaries. Accounts are accessible through any browser window, or through a free app available for use on most smartphones.
Regardless of where or how you decide to store the information, make sure that your estate plan includes a full list of all your user names and passwords for any accounts with a digital presence. Then make sure to update the list when login information is updated or changed. (Make sure to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that no login information is designated in estate plan documents that will become public record).
If you need assistance getting your online assets in order or if you need to update your estate plan to include your digital accounts, please get in touch with one of the experienced California estate planning attorneys at The Law Office of Janet L. Brewer.