As society moves closer a fully online world, if it isn't there already, an interesting issue is arising in estate planning - how to pass down our digital assets, such as email, Facebook, Ebay and Instagram accounts? Some of you may recall in 2004 Yahoo denying the family of a soldier who died in Iraq access to his email account, citing the companies term of use of policies. How do we ensure that our digital assets pass to our loved ones, and not be lost forever in cyber-abyss?
This article discusses what happens to a persons digital accounts after they die, and what lawmakers are doing to govern access to post-death access to digital assets. Some helpful hints from the article:
1. Make sure your digital assets are addressed in your estate planning documents. Be specific so your successor trustees and executors are able to locate your online documents and assets;
2. Choose your "digital trustee/executor" carefully. They may be the same person, but make sure your "digital trustee/executor" is familiar with social media and digital assets;
3. Be clear about what to do with your accounts. Do you want the account(s) closed immediately? Do you want to grant access to family and friends in lieu of a physical photo album?
4. Create a reference guide. List all of your accounts (Facebook, email, Twitter, Ebay, etc), along with your user name and password.
As always, your first call should be to an experienced Michigan estate planning attorney, such as the attorneys at Barsch & Joswick, PLLC, to have to proper estate plan drafted to take into consideration your digital assets. Call today for a free consultation.