Articles Posted in Digital Assets

MP900446463Recognizing the ever-growing concern over managing online accounts of deceased loved ones, Google has changed the options on their support page regarding access to a deceased user's account.  We're glad to see that Google allows survivors to manage their loved one's accounts in the event of death, especially when clear instructions may not have been left behind by the deceased.  You may visit the  updated page to review the various options available to family members or those individuals interested in planning their own estates.

Earlier this month our blog discussed Facebook offering a new feature called: "Legacy Contact."  This feature may also help your loved ones secure your account after your death and allow you to make specific designations about your account. 

Although many state legislatures are attempting to define how digital accounts may be managed after the user passes away, we believe that it is a good step forward that Google and Facebook are making in helping families gain a better understanding of the available options for digital asset management.

Facebook logoFacebook offers a feature that will allow a designated person to have increased access to a Facebook account when its owner passes away. Facebook realizes there is a growing need to support those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and those who want a say in what happens to their account after death.

Facebook responded by launching a feature called: "Legacy Contact." This feature may help your loved ones through the grieving process in the event of your death and allows you to designate what will happen with your account upon passing.

If you are a Facebook user, you may want to go into your account now and designate your Legacy Contact to manage your account when you pass away. Here is how it works when someone passes away:

MP900442500Portland attorney Victoria Blachly said people can avoid the personal, financial and in some cases legal headaches that come with losing access to their online accounts by creating a Virtual Asset Instruction Letter where they list their online accounts, the passwords they use to access each one, and instructions explaining what, if anything, should be done with the content each account holds.

What happens to all of your online accounts when you die? Will your loved ones be able to access them? If so, what should they do with those accounts? There is much to think about when it comes to your digital estate planning.

An article from The (Bend OR) Bulletin, “Estate planning in a digital world,”says that you can avoid personal, financial, and legal headaches by creating a Virtual Asset Instruction Letter.

MP900442327“‘Do you have any important business online?’ That is now just as important of a conversation as asking somebody their health care preferences in a life-threatening situation.”

Leaving your digital accounts out of your Houston estate plan can prove to be a big, bad mistake.

Most digital accounts require passwords for access, even accounts we would not have considered as important even a decade ago.

MP900442500Roos said it’s important that people plan ahead and put “someone in charge of these digital assets and giving the family the opportunity to take over accounts if something were to happen, so they can control the information so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.”

Have you heard the buzz about digital estate planning? For those with online accounts—this includes online bank accounts, social media accounts, and photography accounts—these are part of your digital estate. And just like your physical assets, your digital assets need protection too.

A recent report, titled Have you planned your digital afterlife?, reminds us that a digital estate can cause real headaches for grieving loved ones who may be attempting to access those accounts. The report recommends that people write down their passwords and make sure their trusted relatives will have access.

Top secret keyDeath is emotionally difficult enough without discovering that you have no idea what digital assets a person had or what they wanted done with them.

A growing concern among those wishing to properly manage their digital estate is "digital death," which questions what is an asset or special relationship—and how to balance privacy and security with passing on relevant information. A recent Smart Company article, titled "The business of digital life and death," reports that 70% of 65-74 year-old Americans are on Facebook, and there are 30 million accounts that belong to individuals no longer alive. The article cites several factors in dealing with digital assets. For example, there are no international standards on digital assets or for how to address them via estate planning.

Again, social media has not been a burning issue in estate planning as of yet; however, as younger generations start to look at planning for the future, it will become more relevant as it will be more common and because the legal treatment of digital assets after death is clearly defined.

Man holding computerLast week, the Uniform Law Commission drafted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, a model law that would let relatives access the social media accounts of the deceased.

Digital estate planning has become a hot button issue in estate planning and technology law. What exactly happens to our digital accounts after we pass away? It depends. Currently, most states do not have laws that would grant executors or others access to digital accounts. This means that access is determined by the terms and conditions and privacy policies of the technology companies that operate the websites the accounts are on. This has caused headaches for many families attempting to wrap up a loved one's digital affairs.

The Uniform Law Commission has come up with a plan called the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act that, if adopted by the states, would end this problem. However as National Public Radiopoints out, in A Plan To Untangle Our Digital Lives After We're Gone, the idea is not popular with all technology companies. The Commission states that its proposal would give an executor access to accounts in the same way that a family has access to real world items, such as photographs and letters. However, technology companies say the proposal could create privacy concerns for third parties as their communications with the deceased would be accessible.

Hands on jail cellNo matter what steps you take or what laws are eventually passed, managing a digital estate for a loved one will always be a long, arduous, and painful process.

Digital estate planning is popping up in the news more and more as people are trying to figure out how to deal with digital assets of loved ones who have already passed. Gaining access to one's email and social media accounts after they die can be very difficult. It can be even more difficult for heirs to gain access to online financial accounts. For this reason, attorneys always stress that you should plan ahead and make sure you have come up with a good way for someone you trust to access any accounts you have.

Recently on PBS News Hour, another potential problem with access to digital accounts was raised in a segment titled Dead and Online: What Happens to Your Digital Estate When You Die? One of the interviewees points out that a family member attempting to gain access to your accounts after you pass away could be in violation of federal privacy laws and computer fraud and abuse laws. It could also be a criminal violation to break the terms of service of the website your family member is trying to gain access to in some circumstances.

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