Nearly everyone has a digital presence today. Technologies such as social media and email have made it possible for people from Massachusetts to Hawaii to stay connected to one another. Many people also have important documents stored online, or they use the internet to access financial accounts. Unfortunately, because technology is advancing so quickly, laws and other policies are often forced to play catch up. People are realizing that many asset protection laws or policies do not cover a significant portion of their digital assets.
Some are working to pass laws that would allow executors to access the deceased person’s emails and digital files if specified in a will. While many states have already adopted this policy, there are still some that are still only considering it. In these states, the companies like Yahoo or Google can decide what to do with the deceased’s account. Some of these companies choose to terminate the accounts quickly, but others will allow them to sit unused for some time. There are also privacy laws and policies to consider.
There are some things that can be done to limit confusion and to ensure that one’s digital assets are taken care of. Giving family members or the executor of an estate a list of accounts, including user-names and passwords, can be very helpful. The benefactor may also wish to include details about each account on this list and whether or not he or she wishes the account to be deleted. It may also be possible in some cases to transfer in-app purchases to another person.
Digital assets can refer to a wide variety of things. It may refer to pictures posted online or texts and emails, or it might refer to financial accounts and important legal information. Massachusetts residents who wish to discuss asset protection and how it applies to their digital assets may wish to contact an attorney in their area.
Source: scientificamerican.com, “Estate Planning for Your Digital Assets“, Natalie Banta, Feb. 7, 2018