Estate Planning for Digital Assets

What's Going to Happen to My Account When I Die?

As more and more of our life has gone online, the become harder to access all of the information that has been created online during your lifetime.  Facebook accounts, Paperless Documents (Bank Statements, Brokerage accounts, Utility Bills, etc), GMAIL accounts and many other online services that make up our day-to-day modern life are all governed by the “Terms of Use” agreements that we all agree to --but rarely read-- when we signup for an account.  

More than money, these accounts often contain sentimental correspondence or the only copy of photos.  Maintaining and ensuring access to those materials can mean a lot to your loved ones after you’ve passed.

As part of your Estate Plan, you should consider drafting instructions for the Personal Representative appointed in your Will.   Things to consider when creating a plan for your Digital Assets.

  1. Identify the online accounts you and each companies' Terms-of-Service handles the account when you die.
  2. Compile a list of login and passwords for each account that you want your Personal Representative to have access.  Keep this list updated when passwords change and keep it in a secure location.
  3. Provide instructions for the Personal Representative for each account.  Do you want the account deleted, downloaded to a hard disk or kept online as a memorial?
  4. You may also want to update your Power of Attorney so that they may be able to access your accounts in the event that you become incapacitated.

It is also a good practice to backup photographs that are store online from time to time so that there will be a copy available just in case.

Below are links to the major online companies and how they handle the death of a customer.

What is going to happen to your Facebook account when you die?

Your Google account?

Microsoft account?

Yahoo! account?

Apple iCloud?

Much like our physical assets, our digital assets will have meaning to those we have left behind.  We should all take the time to plan how we want them maintained after we have passed.

Portland Probate Attorney
(503) 893-5878