Friday, August 19, 2011

Death and Digital Assets

If I kick up my heels tomorrow on 285, what happens to all my emails, online accounts, documents, pictures, blog, website and all the other goodies on my computer or in the clouds?
Who knows all that I have and where it is stored? Who knows my passwords to open these accounts?
If I don't make plans for the disposition of my digital assets, my sons will have to deal with time-consuming and expensive searches to find them - if indeed they even know what to look for.
Integras Partners (http://www.integraspartners.com/) has given some guidelines. Domain names, once registered, become my personal property and my websites and blog content are mine. These would be transferable to my heirs (through my will). But, email accounts, Facebook, twitter, eBay or PayPal may not be classified as my property as I am merely given a license when I agree to terms of service. Some sites, such as YouTube will allow people with legal power of attorney to access my accounts. Other sites such as Facebook, will put my accounts into a "memorial state." Many sites will terminate and permanently delete my accounts upon notification of my death. Integras Partners strongly suggests that I read and understand all terms of service and make any legal arrangements so that my heirs can access my accounts.
So what should I do now?
According to Integras Partners, I should consider including my cyber assets in my estate plan.
  1. Identify my cyber assets.
  2. Understand which assets are transferable and which are not.
  3. Inventory my cyber assets - note where they are located, how they are accessed, what I want to happen to them and who will be responsible for carrying out my wishes. The inventory should be referred to in my will but not included in the will as wills become public.
  4. Include specific bequests of valuable cyber assets and execute powers of attorney for those accounts that require it.
Sounds like a lot to think about. Not wanting to tempt fate, I'd better get started on it.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yes, I agree you should do something. Look at the very easy to complete My Digital Assets Inventory workbook as a place to record your inventory information, and see the suggested language you can give to your attorney to include in your estate planning documents. Very helpful. You can find it at www.lorapendleton.com