As discussed in last week’s post we will continue this week on the importance of remembering digital assets in estate planning activities. Many in Michigan and elsewhere spend a good portion of their time online performing a variety of activities from gaming to investing and sharing photos. In doing so we are creating an online legacy of sorts in which we may want our loved ones to have access to in the event we become incapacitated. The United States General Services Administration suggests people consider creating a “social media will” of sorts.

The administration recommends we review the terms and conditions and privacy policies of the websites we use and delegate an “online executor” for sites in which we have an online presence. In addition to family mementos such as photos, there could be money at stake as well. Consider the online gaming guru who developed weapons and characters that are now extremely valuable to other gamers. People often put these items on sites like eBay and sell them for actual cash that you may not want your loved ones to miss out on.

When selecting your digital executor, choose someone who is comfortable with the technology and concepts of digital assets. When setting up your will or estate plan, be specific in regards to what you want done with your accounts. Do you want to cancel them immediately or do you want others to have access to your email and other online accounts for a period of time. Some websites allow accounts to stay active as an online memorial for a period, while other sites do not allow others to access accounts at all.

You can do that by creating a type of reference guide, which includes a list of all your sites you have an account with and the user name and passwords associated with them. Some estate planning attorneys suggest naming your online executor in your estate plan but keep the list of accounts and logins separate as you will need to update them from time to time. Just let them know where to find the list when they need to. Attorneys also suggest using a document called a “digital-asset trust” if you want to keep your online assets out of the probate system.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Passing Down Digital Assets,” Kelly Greene, Aug. 31, 2012

Our Hunting Woods law firm handles estate planning, including trust planning and administration to keep your estate out of the probate process providing you and your loved ones with more privacy, among the many other benefits of a trust.