Estate planning has become a little more complicated now that most of us own digital assets. Digital assets are any electronic files, programs or records that you own or that you control. Many of us have experienced getting a Facebook reminder that today is someone special’s birthday – and we know that person died several years ago. It can be a sweet memory, or it can be a very painful reminder that we don’t want to see again. Until recently, there weren’t good guidelines for what happens to your digital assets after you die – the technology was too new. And data privacy laws protected your electronic data from being handed over to someone else for fear of criminal activity. Providers did not want to grant anyone access to your accounts out of fear they would be held liable for any scams or criminal activity committed that you did not authorize.
Now, there are estate planning guidelines for how your digital assets will be handled after your death.
1. Make a list
Your personal digital assets are likely many and can include:
2. Document all access information
Write down the URL, login info and password for all your accounts and devices.
3. Provide valuations
While a Facebook account may not have any financial value, if you sell a product on eBay or a subscriber service on a website,
4. Designate a proxy
Identify who, if anyone, will be able to access and manage any or all your digital assets if you die or become disabled.
5. Make it legal
An estate planning attorney can help you create a legally binding plan for how your digital assets will be managed or distributed if you die or become disabled. Not everyone wants their family members to have access to their personal accounts when they die, and a lawyer can ensure that your wishes are legal and followed.
In 2016, Illinois joined the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, explaining what will happen to your digital assets if you die without designated beneficiaries or plans.
If you want to decide if and who will have access to your electronic files after you die or if you become incapacitated, consult an attorney. The estate planning attorneys at Estate & Probate Legal Group in Lombard Illinois contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at (630) 800-069.