When Long Island residents begin the estate planning process, they probably think of what to do with physical and monetary assets, such as homes, cars, bank accounts, stocks, bonds and heirlooms. However, in this ever-changing age of technology, most people also need to think of digital assets when drafting a will.
Digital assets can include accounts and anything a person does online that needs to be updated or monitored after death. This includes social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, and online accounts such as those for banking, credit cards or bill payment. Digital assets can also include files kept on a computer, such as videos and photo albums.
Email can also be included. However, many people are secretive about their emails. Those who strongly wish that nobody, not even beneficiaries, read their emails after death should state this in their will. Otherwise, it could be fair game.
It is crucial that a person, or multiple people, be appointed to oversee aspects of a digital collection. For example, one person may be responsible for social media, while someone else oversees the online accounts. For accounts that require usernames and passwords, these should be written down separate from the will. This is because wills become public knowledge and anyone can view the details, which can compromise the security and privacy of an online account.
Protecting assets - physical, tangible and digital - is the goal of the estate planning process. A person's wishes for any asset should be explicitly outlined in a will.
Source: Time, "Protecting Online Assets: 9 Ways to Safeguard Your Digital Legacy," Katy Steinmetz, Nov. 29, 2012