Your Estate Plan Should Also Consider Your Digital Assets

Discussing a Document

Do you have a plan in place to protect all of your assets following your death? Before you answer, consider this: social media and cloud computing have changed the way most people do business. Personal and professional information about you may be available on the internet through websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs. Most people also have access to bank accounts, credit card information stored on websites, email, and photos online. Additionally, cloud-based file-sharing programs such as Dropbox allow more and more personal and sensitive information to be stored electronically. You have the ability to monitor and protect much of this digital information while you are alive, but do you have a plan in place for protecting your digital assets after your unexpected incapacitation or death?

Although most traditional estate plans will name a personal representative who will be tasked with caring for and distributing your physical assets following your death, many do not specify how your electronically stored information should be handled. This may be a mistake. If you have an online presence, it is a good idea to state in your overall estate plan exactly how you would like your digital assets handled after you die. Additionally, specific instructions regarding the management of your digital assets should you become incapacitated may be included in your living will.

It is important to note that the same individual does not need to be chosen to handle both your physical and online assets. Regardless of who you select as your online executor, you should choose someone who is likely to follow your wishes and willing to spend the time necessary to fulfill your requests. Additionally, specific information regarding your wishes for each of your accounts should be provided to your online executor.

Increasingly, the privacy policy of the cloud-based services you utilize will determine how much information you will need to provide to your online executor. In some instances, a personal representative will be required to have your password in order to make any requested changes. In other cases, a death certificate will suffice. To be safe, it is a good idea to maintain a list or inventory of all of your cloud-based accounts and passwords. This can be difficult, however, as passwords tend to be updated frequently.

If you own a business, maintaining a digital asset plan is especially vital. For example, digitally stored information regarding business or client information may be difficult to retrieve without proper planning. Additionally, partners or those who inherit your business may need access to a password-protected computer, smartphone, or other devices. Although it is vital for you to protect the sensitive client or business information, you must also have a carefully considered succession plan in place.

If you have not considered creating a digital estate plan, now is the time to do so. Contact a skilled Wisconsin estate planning attorney to assist you.

To discuss your overall estate plan with an experienced lawyer, please do not hesitate to request a consultation. At Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC, our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys can help you create an overall estate plan that fits your specific needs. We assist clients with wills, trusts, health care documents, powers of attorney, probate matters, and a host of other estate planning tools.

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