Sometimes there’s more to a person than meets the eye. This seems especially true during our increasingly digital age. For example, a man named Adam S. passed away unexpectedly. He left behind a wife, two children, and numerous online accounts. His executor didn’t know where to start looking. Adam had not left a digital assets inventory. When you think about situations like the one facing Adam’s executor, take a hard look at your estate planning. What does your executor need to know about your digital estate assets?
Where the Executor’s Duty Intersects with Digital Assets
An executor gathers, protects, and manages a deceased person’s estate assets. That’s hard to do with digital assets. Hidden digital assets are no different than money stuffed in a coffee can then buried in the back yard. It’s just the same as priceless antiques stuffed in the attic or coin collections tucked away in dresser drawers. Executors can’t manage what they can’t find.
Digital assets include financial accounts, investment and retire accounts, social media accounts, and collections or libraries of information you’ve purchased.
Anything you own, whether on paper or in 1s and 0s, may become an estate asset subject to probate. This assumes, of course, that the owner of the account has not named beneficiaries on the account.
So, how can you make sure your digital assets are handled correctly after you are gone?
Your Digital Assets Inventory
Prepare a list of all your hardware and software first. Include warranty information, serial numbers, location of the asset, and how to access it.
Financial accounts are particularly important for an executor to access. Make sure you include all the information your executor will need to get to the accounts. If you have named beneficiaries for the accounts, include that information on your inventory.
Cryptocurrencies, like bitcoins, may be lost if your family and executor cannot locate them.
Social media accounts may be handled differently. Add them to your digital inventory but see if the social media site has a setting that allows the user to choose someone to take over their account if necessary. Sometimes this is called a legacy person or contract.
Include the locations and logon information for any sites where you have stored documents, photographs, or any other collections.
Learn More About Estate Planning.
Make sure you store your digital assets inventory with your estate planning documents. Also, update regularly.
Talk to a qualified Minnesota attorney about your estate plan. Call Virtus Law at 612.888.1000 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our main office is in Minneapolis, with other offices located in Maplewood, Cambridge, Edina, Mendota Heights, and Red Wing.