What’s going to happen to your social media accounts when you pass
away? Your Facebook? Your LinkedIn? Your Instagram? What about all the
songs you downloaded and paid for from Pandora, Amazon Music or iTunes?
If you’re like most people, digital assets have become a part of
your everyday life. Because of this, they should become a part of your
estate plan. Otherwise, it can be difficult for your loved ones to have
access to them after you die.
According to a
2013 McAfee study, “on average globally we have over $35,000 worth of assets stored
on our devices.” What does that figure include? Digital assets include
but are not limited to the following types of assets stored on digital devices:
- Career information
- Personal records
- Personal memories
As you can imagine, if these digital assets were lost, it would be next
to impossible to recreate, repurchase and re-download them. Can you imagine
if you had purchased 1000 songs on iTunes or had created hundreds of videos
of your children while they were growing up, but your family couldn’t
access them after you die?
In reality, a lot of us don’t think about what will happen to our
digital assets when we’re gone, and some of us have a false sense
of security about it. We assume that our loved ones will have no trouble
accessing them, but that’s not the case. Increasingly, it’s
becoming harder for people to access digital assets after a loved one dies.
Digital Assets Are at Risk of Being Lost
Why are digital assets at an increased risk of being lost forever? One
reason is the complicated terms of service agreements that control digital
accounts. These can make it surprisingly difficult for loved ones to access
digital accounts after their loved ones pass away. What’s more,
when friends and relatives try to hack into a decedent’s account,
they could be violating state and federal privacy laws, putting themselves
at risk of criminal prosecution.
Until the laws regarding digital assets are more consumer-friendly, take
a digital inventory of all of your social media accounts, online accounts
and subscriptions. Gather your passwords for these accounts, and have
an estate planning attorney include specific provisions in your
estate planning documents that address digital assets and all other online accounts.
To make sure you cover all of your bases regarding your digital assets,
contact my Nashville estate planning firm to set up a consultation.