Estate Planning Blog Articles

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Digital Life Lives on After You’re Gone, Unless You Plan Ahead

Every year, Americans receive Facebook reminders to wish departed friends a happy birthday. It’s a sad reminder, but it happens because most people don’t address digital footprints as part of their estate plans. A recent article from the Monterey Herald, “Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: Your digital life does not die with you,” explains how to get started.

Ensure that your executor has a list of websites and apps where you are a user. This includes Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), Linked In, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Google email, Microsoft Outlook, bank accounts, investment accounts, photo storage and any other sites you use. You can use an online password manager or paper to make a list. If you create a spreadsheet on your computer, you’ll want to encrypt it to prevent unwanted access and ensure that your executor has the password. Whatever method you use, make sure that your executor knows where the information can be found.

When you die, certain platforms allow you to name someone to become your Account Manager or Legacy contact. Google’s Account Manager lets you set up parameters to notify someone if you have been inactive for a certain period of time. Facebook enables you to name a person to manage your account after you pass away. Apple also has a Legacy Contact option.

Like everything else online, website guidelines change, so you’ll want to create a Digital Will establishing your wishes for your social media and online accounts, referred to as “Directives.”

If you have digital currency or cryptocurrency, you’ll need an executor who understands how crypto works. They should be able to access your digital wallet and “key”, so they may access your assets. These funds are frequently lost due to a lack of planning and no paper trail to follow.

Depending upon your state, you may be able to give your Power of Attorney access to your digital assets in case of incapacity. Speak with your estate planning attorney to be sure that your will or trust addresses the ability to manage digital assets according to the laws of your state.

If creating a list of digital accounts seems too much to deal with, imagine your executor having to figure out your digital life. Without digital estate planning, your assets could be lost. As a result, your entire online life is vulnerable to digital identity theft that could easily continue for decades.

Reference: Monterey Herald (March 1, 2024) “Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: Your digital life does not die with you”

Make a New Year’s Resolution to Do Your Estate Planning in 2024

Creating or reviewing an estate plan is something that many people know they should do but often put off. It’s natural to say things like: “I’ll take care of it later,” or “I don’t have enough money to have an estate plan.” However, life and circumstances happen that may be out of your control. Every adult needs to have an estate plan, regardless of how large or small their estate is. The new year is a great time to make a resolution to create or review your estate plan, explains ElderLawAnswers in a recent article, “New Year’s Resolution: Get That Estate Plan Donee.” No one knows what the future holds, yet legally documenting your wishes ensures that your plan decides what happens to you, your loved ones and your assets. Start off 2024 right by working with an estate planning law firm to secure your present and future.

How Do You Create an Estate Plan?

Estate planning provides many benefits to individuals and their families. One of these is relieving stress and uncertainty during a difficult time by providing a clear guide for what you want to happen in the event of your incapacity or death.

Estate planning starts with working with an estate lawyer who guides an individual or family in making a last will and testament and critical documents, including a Power of Attorney, trusts and medical directives based on individual goals and circumstances. Creating an estate plan allows a family to protect investments and other assets during disability or illness and ensure the distribution of property after death. At the same time, an estate plan can help ensure that taxes and probate are minimized or avoided.

What Is a Last Will and Testament?

A last will is a legal document addressing property, assets, debts and investments and their distribution after the owner’s death. The executor is the individual who helps settle the estate with creditors and heirs. If there is no will, your state’s laws will determine how the estate will be distributed. A will is also used to name a guardian for minor children if both parents pass away. Therefore, every young family should have a will. Without a will naming a guardian, the court will make decisions about the children’s guardian, possibly appointing a person the parents might not have chosen.

What Information Do I Need for My Estate Plan?

Proof of Identity

Your executor will need information, including a valid birth certificate, Social Security card, marriage or divorce certificates, a prenuptial agreement, or military service discharge papers.

Digital Asset Information

With so much of our lives lived online, everyone needs a digital vault, an integrated password manager, or some system for managing digital assets. Without this, your traditional and digital assets are vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.

Property Deeds and Titles

You have titles for cars, homes, or real estate property. They must be gathered and kept in a safe place, and then one or two highly trusted individuals must be told where these documents are located.

Debts

Debts do not disappear when you die. Your executor will need to know what debts exist because they must address them. Compile a list of your debts, including mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, personal loans and student loans. Add contact information for the lender, account number, login information and approximate amount of the debt. If you have credit cards you rarely use, include those so they can be closed out before identity theft occurs.

Assets with Named Beneficiary Designations

Retirement accounts and life insurance policies that have named beneficiary designations can be transferred directly to beneficiaries. However, this does not happen automatically. Your executor will need to provide beneficiaries with the information for the assets, including the name of the insurance company or financial institution, the location of policies, account numbers and the value of the assets. The beneficiary may need to provide a death certificate and identification information before releasing the assets.

Financial Information

Create a detailed list of financial information, including bank accounts, car insurance, credit cards, health, home, and life insurance, pension plans, retirement plans and tax returns.

Funeral Wishes

If you want to save your family a lot of stress during a difficult time, outline what you want to happen. Do you want a cremation or embalming and burial? Should it be a full-on faith-based memorial service, or a few poems read at the graveside? Ensure that your wishes are communicated and shared with loved ones, so everyone knows what you want.

What If I Already have an Estate Plan?

Your estate plan is not a static legal document. As your life changes, so might your wishes regarding how your assets are distributed after your death. It’s common for relationships, financial circumstances and family dynamics to change over time. Each significant shift in your life may warrant a review and possible estate plan update. The start of a new year is a great time to review your existing estate plan and your current financial situation to ensure that you are meeting goals and communicating future expectations to your intended heirs.

Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney

Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to put this information in the appropriate legal documents. They may have recommendations for options that you may not know about.

Digital Assets in Estate Planning

In the contemporary world, digital assets have evolved to become an essential component of our lives. From emails and photos to online financial portfolios, these assets play a vital role and are of significant value. However, what happens to these assets when we are no longer around? Integrating digital assets in your estate planning is a step towards ensuring that these assets are managed and passed on according to one’s wishes.

What is a Digital Asset?

A digital asset is any content owned by an individual in digital form. This can include everything from email accounts and online accounts to social media accounts and even digital photos. With the shift towards digitalization, the significance and value of these assets, be they monetary or sentimental, have grown.

Why is it Important to Include Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan?

It’s crucial to understand that much of our lives are now online. These digital assets carry both monetary value and sentimental value. By integrating digital assets in your estate plan, you ensure that these assets are not lost, misused, or left unattended upon your demise. It also provides clarity to the executor and beneficiaries about how to handle these assets.

What Types of Digital Assets Should Be Included?

When considering types of digital assets, the list can be extensive. It includes email and social media accounts, online financial portfolios, online content and assets stored in the cloud. Some assets, like online financial accounts, may have clear monetary value, while others, like digital photos or emails, might carry sentimental value.

How to Create Your Digital Estate Plan?

Creating your digital estate plan involves a series of steps. Start with making a list, appropriately named the list of digital assets. This should detail every digital property you own. Subsequently, use a password manager like 1Password to keep track of usernames and passwords. Finally, appoint a digital executor, someone you trust, to manage your online assets after you pass.

What Challenges Might Arise?

Even with a comprehensive digital estate plan, challenges can arise. Some service providers may not easily grant access to the data, even with a death certificate. There might also be legal complications, as laws governing fiduciary access to digital assets are still evolving. Seeking legal advice can help navigate these waters.

Designating Access: Executor or Beneficiary?

When planning for digital assets, it’s essential to designate someone to manage them. While an executor is an obvious choice, there are instances where you might want a beneficiary to have direct access. This choice often depends on the nature of the asset and your personal wishes.

Legal Implications and Rights

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act is a legal framework addressing the executor’s access to digital assets. However, nuances exist. Some assets, especially those you’ve licensed but don’t own, may not be transferable. Understanding the legal landscape and seeking professional guidance is crucial.

What About Security and Unauthorized Access?

Security is paramount as much as you want your executor or beneficiaries to access your online accounts and passwords. Unauthorized access to computer systems is illegal. Therefore, ensuring that your executor has the proper legal authority is crucial. Using tools like password managers and keeping a master password in a secure but accessible location can be beneficial.

The Future of Digital Assets in Estate Planning

With ever-increasing digitalization, digital assets will play an even more significant role in estate planning. With potential changes in the law and the evolving nature of digital platforms, staying updated is essential. Regularly revisiting and updating your estate plan can help protect your digital legacy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Digital assets encompass everything from emails and photos to online portfolios.
  • Integrating these assets into your estate plan ensures that they are managed per your wishes.
  • A comprehensive list and password manager can help organize and grant access.
  • Legal challenges can arise; seeking professional advice is essential.
  • Keeping security at the forefront is crucial to prevent unauthorized access.
  • The landscape of digital assets in estate planning is evolving; staying updated is vital.

In conclusion, as the digital world continues to expand, integrating digital assets into your estate planning is not just recommended but essential. By doing so, you not only protect your assets but ensure a smooth transition for your loved ones.

How to Include Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

While owning digital assets hasn’t changed the principles of estate planning, it has made the estate pre-planning process more complicated, according to the article “Estate planning and cryptocurrency: 5 tips for leaving your digital assets” from Bankrate. The hurdle is the information needed to retrieve digital assets, including passwords, keys and digital asset locations. There’s no one to call, and the stories of millions in digital assets lost forever are already legendary.

Here are five tips for cryptocurrency owners:

Know where the crypto is held. Cryptocurrency held with a traditional broker or crypto exchange can be handled like other investment accounts, if a beneficiary is named on the accounts or otherwise specified in a will or trust documents. An owner might try to hide the account. However, it generally can be found if the executor knows where the crypto is located.

If crypto assets are self-custodied in an off-chain wallet, and no one knows where the wallet is or its existence, crypto can be hidden and may not be retrievable. A title or probate search will not reveal them; it may be gone forever without the password, private key, or seed phrases.

Understand crypto can easily be lost permanently. Anyone holding crypto on an encrypted hard drive could lose the asset forever, if no one but the owner knows where it is or how to access it. If a hard drive is lost, destroyed, or stolen, or if the key is lost, the crypto is gone.

Provide access to crypto accounts. Whether it’s traditional brokerage accounts or crypto on a hard drive, you’ll need to provide the means and info for your executor or heirs to access these assets upon your passing. The challenge is balancing access with the security of the accounts. There are ways to set up a centralized location to secure all known seed phrases, keys and passphrases and then locate them in the most secure place available. For example, a hard copy list may be stored with other important documents in a fire and waterproof safe.

Another problem is that if your executor is unfamiliar with digital assets, they may not know anything about how digital assets work, making accessing the accounts challenging. You may need to bring them into the digital world as part of your estate planning process.

Protect access to accounts with best practices. If crypto is sent to another person, it’s basically unrecoverable. Don’t include this information in your will, as it becomes a public document upon going through probate. It may be better to secure digital vaults or use reliable, reputable third-party services to store access information. Be careful about providing access to family members who may take advantage of their digital fluency before the estate plan is settled.

Don’t forget cryptocurrency is taxable. Any realized capital gain is taxable, and so are purchases using crypto when the value of the goods is worth more than the purchase price of the crypto. If the estate is over the federal or state exemption level, it can owe estate taxes, even when the crypto is hidden. Tax implications, including tracking the cost basis and gain and loss metrics, are especially important during the asset transition phase. Executors dealing with crypto must be careful to declare the estate’s taxable gains and losses. The estate must meet all tax obligations, crypto and traditional assets included.

Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney about how your state’s laws govern cryptocurrency and digital assets as part of a comprehensive estate plan.

Reference: Bankrate (September 5, 2023) “Estate planning and cryptocurrency: 5 tips for leaving your digital assets”

Protecting Digital Assets in Estate Planning

The highly secure nature of crypto assets results largely from the lack of personally identifiable information associated with crypto accounts. Unfortunately, this makes identifying crypto assets impossible for heirs or executors, who must be made aware of their existence or provided with the information needed to access these new assets.

The only way to access crypto accounts after the original owner’s death, as reported in the recent article “Today’s Business: Cryptocurrency and estate planning” from CT Insider, is to have the password, or “private key.” Without the private key, there is no access, and the cryptocurrency is worthless. At the same time, safeguarding passwords, especially the “seed” phrases, is critical.

The key to the cryptocurrency should be more than just known to the owner. The owner must never be the only person who knows where the passwords are printed, stored on a secreted scrap of paper, on a deliberately hard-to-find thumb drive, or encrypted on a laptop with only the owner’s knowledge of how to access the information.

At the same time, this information must be kept secure to protect it from theft. How can you accomplish both?

One of the straightforward ways to store passwords and seed phrases is to write them down on a piece of paper and keep the paper in a secure location, such as a safe or safe deposit box. However, the safe deposit box may not be accessible in the event of the owner’s death.

Some people use password managers, a software tool for password storage. The information is encrypted, and a single master password is all your executor needs to gain access to secret seed phrases, passwords and other stored information. However, storing the master password in a secure location becomes challenging, as information cannot be retrieved if lost.

You should also never store seed phrases or passwords with the cryptocurrency wallet address, which makes crypto assets extremely vulnerable to theft.

This information needs to be stored in a way that is secure from physical and digital threats. Consider giving your executor, a trusted friend, or relative directions on retrieving this stored information.

Another option is to provide your executor or trusted person with the passwords and seed phrases, as long as they can be trusted to safeguard the information and are not likely to share it accidentally.

Passwords and seed phrases should be regularly updated and occasionally changed to ensure that digital assets remain secure. If you’ve shared the information, share the updates as well.

A side note on digital assets: the IRS now treats cryptocurrency as personal property, not currency. The property transaction rules applying to virtual currency are generally the same as they apply to traditional types of property transfers. There may be tax consequences if there is a capital gain or loss.

Properly safeguarding seed phrases and other passwords is essential to estate planning. Include digital assets in your estate plan just as a traditional asset.

Reference: CT Insider (March 18, 2023) “Today’s Business: Cryptocurrency and estate planning”

How to Pass Crypto to Heirs

Matthew Mellon was a direct descendent of the founder of the Mellon Bank and inherited $25 million. He invested early in cryptocurrency, against his family’s wishes, as explained in the article “About Loss and Crypto: Never Lose Access, Ensure Loved Ones Inherit it” from Hackernoon. When he died suddenly, his $2 million investment had reached approximately $200 million. However, unlike his own traditional inheritance, his crypto fortune was so well protected that no one was able to access it.

Mellon reportedly kept his digital keys in cold storage, using different names in vaults of various banks across the country. However, he had not shared any access information with anyone. His crypto hoard still exists on the blockchain. However, without access through private keys, it is untransferable.

There are countless cases just like Matthew Mellon. It’s estimated that around 20% of the total supply of Bitcoin—about $90 billion—is currently lost.

The digital environment is still relatively new, and blockchain logic is even newer. Losing access to a digital wallet is alarming, as is losing access to a fortune. The current infrastructure of crypto requires owners to have knowledge of how to access various security tools, from digital wallets to seed phrase to encrypted passwords and then, if they plan on eventually transferring their digital assets, to educate heirs or executors regarding how to access their crypto.

Crypto exchanges offer custodial wallets. However, if the user is not in control of their private keys, or if there is a security breach or the exchange collapses, which does happen, funds can be lost.

Having a bank or estate planning attorney serve as the executor of a will including cryptocurrency requires educating the person who will be in charge of accessing and distributing the asset.

Passwords change frequently and may be tied to a two-factor authentication system, meaning the executor would also need access to the owner’s secondary device, such as a phone or email on the owner’s computer.

According to a 2020 study, less than a quarter of all crypto holders have a plan in place for how their funds will be distributed when they die. Nearly 90% are worried about what will happen to their assets when they die. However, few take the steps to protect their investment.

In such a new developing asset class, valuable wealth will continue to go astray unless planning and education takes place. If you’ve created any assets in cryptocurrency, does someone besides you have the ability to access them? If no, it’s time to plan for the unexpected.

Reference: Hackernoon (Feb. 13, 2023) “About Loss and Crypto: Never Lose Access, Ensure Loved Ones Inherit it”

Does My Estate Plan Need an ‘ePlan’?

Modern estate plans should include what’s known as an “ePlan” to manage online accounts and online data. There are four specific steps to creating an effective ePlan, says American Legion’s recent article entitled “Estate planning and online accounts.”

  1. Create a List of Accounts and How to Access Them. Your list should specify the username, password account number and a description of what’s included in each account. Make sure to keep this list up to date.
  2. Store and Protect Your Info. Develop a plan for storing information, including saving the list you compiled and backing up important data files and account information. Since an ePlan account list contains sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords, it’s important to maintain the security and confidentiality of this list.
  3. Designate a Digital Executor. The laws of many states give access to online accounts to the executor of an estate. However, in some cases, state law may restrict access, if the executor doesn’t have the password or an estate plan does not clearly grant powers to the executor to access these accounts.
  4. Give Your Executor “Digital Directions.” Draft a letter of instruction to the digital executor and tell him or her how to manage your online accounts and digital assets. It may also include suggestions on the distribution of accounts, assets, files and information to family.

Note that Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and other companies have policies for when an account holder dies. These policies may permit an account holder to designate a “Legacy Contact” to manage the account; require specific documentation before a deceased person’s account can be closed, such as a copy of a death certificate; or automatically close an account after an extended period of inactivity, such as three months.

Digital estate planning is a new and dynamic field. By adding an ePlan to your estate plan, you can be certain your executor will take the right steps to preserve and protect these accounts and that valuable and sentimental data can be passed on to family and loved ones.

Reference: American Legion (Dec. 13, 2022) “Estate planning and online accounts”

Top 10 Success Tips for Estate Planning

Unless you’ve done the planning, assets may not be distributed according to your wishes and loved ones may not be taken care of after your death. These are just two reasons to make sure you have an estate plan, according to the recent article titled “Estate Planning 101: 10 Tips for Success” from the Maryland Reporter.

Create a list of your assets. This should include all of your property, real estate, liquid assets, investments and personal possessions. With this list, consider what you would like to happen to each item after your death. If you have many assets, this process will take longer—consider this a good thing. Don’t neglect digital assets. The goal of a careful detailed list is to avoid any room for interpretation—or misinterpretation—by the courts or by heirs.

Meet with an estate planning attorney to create wills and trusts. These documents dictate how your assets are distributed after your death. Without them, the laws of your state may be used to distribute assets. You also need a will to name an executor, the person responsible for carrying out your instructions.

Your will is also used to name a guardian, the person who will raise your children if they are orphaned minors.

Who is the named beneficiary on your life insurance policy? This is the person who will receive the death benefit from your policy upon your death. Will this person be the guardian of your minor children? Do you prefer to have the proceeds from the policy used to fund a trust for the benefit of your children? These are important decisions to be made and memorialized in your estate plan.

Make your wishes crystal clear. Legal documents are often challenged if they are not prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney or if they are vaguely worded. You want to be sure there are no ambiguities in your will or trust documents. Consider the use of “if, then” statements. For example, “If my husband predeceases me, then I leave my house to my children.”

Consider creating a letter of intent or instruction to supplement your will and trusts. Use this document to give more detailed information about your wishes, from funeral arrangements to who you want to receive a specific item. Note this document is not legally binding, but it may avoid confusion and can be used to support the instructions in your will.

Trusts may be more important than you think in estate planning. Trusts allow you to take assets out of your probate estate and have these assets managed by a trustee of your choice, who distributes assets directly to beneficiaries. You don’t have to have millions to benefit from a trust.

List your debts. This is not as much fun as listing assets, but still important for your executor and heirs. Mortgage payments, car payments, credit cards and personal loans are to be paid first out of estate accounts before funds can be distributed to heirs. Having this information will make your executor’s tasks easier.

Plan for digital assets. If you want your social media accounts to be deleted or emails available to a designated person after you die, you’ll need to start with a list of the accounts, usernames, passwords, whether the platform allows you to designate another person to have access to your accounts and how you want your digital assets handled after death. This plan should be in place in case of incapacity as well.

How will estate taxes be paid? Without tax planning properly done, your legacy could shrink considerably. In addition to federal estate taxes, some states have state estate taxes and inheritance taxes. Talk with your estate planning attorney to find out what your estate tax obligations will be and how to plan strategically to pay the taxes.

Plan for Long Term Care. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about 70% of Americans will need some type of long-term care during their lifetimes. Some options are private LTC insurance, government programs and self-funding.

The more planning done in advance, the more likely your loved ones will know what to do if you become incapacitated and know what you wanted when you die.

Resource: Maryland Reporter (Sep. 27, 2022) “Estate Planning 101: 10 Tips for Success”

Problems Created When No Will Is Available

Ask any estate planning attorney how much material they have for a book, or a movie based on the drama they see from family squabbles when someone dies without a will. There’s plenty—but a legal requirement of confidentiality and professionalism keeps those stories from circulating as widely as they might. This may be why more people aren’t as aware as they should be of how badly things go for loved ones when there’s no will, or the will is improperly drafted.

Disputes range from one parent favoring one child or children engaged in fierce fighting over personal possessions when there’s no will specifying who should get what, or providing a system for distribution, according to a recent article titled “Estate planning: 68% of Americans lack a will” from New Orleans City Business.

People don’t consider estate planning as an urgent matter. The pace of life has become so hectic as to push estate planning appointments to the next week, and the next. They also don’t believe their estates have enough value to need to have a will, but without a will, a modest estate could evaporate far faster than if an estate plan were in place.

The number of people having a will has actually decreased in the last twenty years. A few sources report the number keeps dipping from 50% in 2005, 44% in 2016 and 32% in 2022. In 2020, more Americans searched the term “online will” than in any other time since 2011.

Younger people seem to be making changes. Before the pandemic, only 16% of Americans ages 18-34 had a will. Today caring.com reports 24% of these young adults have a will. Maybe they know something their elders don’t!

One thing to be considered when having a will drafted is the “no contest clause.” Anyone who challenges the will is immediately cut out of the will. While this may not deter the person who is bound and determined to fight, it presents a reason to think twice before engaging in litigation.

Many people don’t know they can include trust provisions in their wills to manage family inheritances. Trusts are not just for super wealthy families but are good planning tools used to protect assets. They are used to control distributions, including setting terms and conditions for when heirs receive bequests.

Today’s will must also address digital assets. The transfer and administration of digital assets includes emails, electronic access to bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit cards, cryptocurrency, reward program accounts, streaming services and more. Even if the executor has access to log-in information, they may be precluded from accessing digital accounts because of federal or state laws. Wills are evolving to address these concerns and plan for the practicalities of digital assets.

Reference: New Orleans City Business (Sep. 8, 2022) “Estate planning: 68% of Americans lack a will”

Why You Need a Digital Asset Estate Plan

Ajemian died in a bicycle accident at age 43. With no will, his estate passed to a surviving brother and sister. As the siblings began going through his assets, they realized that having Ajemian’s emails could make it easier to identify assets and accounts. They asked Yahoo for access to the email account and explained why. Yahoo said no, citing the Stored Communications Act, a 1986 federal law governing online privacy. Yahoo claimed sharing the emails would violate the federal law. The siblings sued, and the case went through the courts until arriving at the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which ruled in the Ajemians’ favor in 2017.

This scenario, discussed in the article “Your digital self will outlive you” from Morning Brew, is a perfect example of how difficult managing digital assets can be. It also raises another question: do you want your family members reading every email you’ve ever sent or seeing every post you’ve created?

We live digital lives today: photos are stored in the cloud, social media records our personal history, digital wallets contain cryptocurrency and creative works may be password protected. If there is no digital estate planning, those assets will live forever on the web, could easily be accessed by hackers and thieves, or be erased if platforms detect inactivity for an extended period of time.

Amid the rise of digital estate planning startups are ethical debates about what should happen to digital lives living on the cloud. These private and sometimes intimate exchanges will live on, long after their creators have passed. Do you want your descendants to get to know you through a chatbot created by using social media, messages and voice recordings? The technology exists already, although even Microsoft deemed it too creepy to bring to market. At least, for now.

Digital accounts are vulnerable to hackers, difficult to identify and easy to disappear. Executors trying to settle estates are often locked out of accounts by default. Forty-seven states have adopted some version of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, or RUFADAA, which provides a legal framework to allow people to designate someone to take over their digital assets when they die—but only if a person actively picks someone to do it.

Given how few Americans have an estate plan, the number who have made plans for online assets is even smaller. Some big tech companies have added features to allow a legacy contact to take over accounts when users die, but not many. Facebook allows a person to let a legacy contact see and download posts, but the contact cannot go into Messenger history.

Unless you make plans to address it, your digital life will outlive you. Not making digital assets part of your estate plans could also make your estate more vulnerable to scammers. A better way forward is to place your traditional and digital assets under the protection of a comprehensive estate plan, created by an experienced estate planning attorney.

Reference: Morning Brew (July 1, 2022) “Your digital self will outlive you”