Traditionally, the average estate plans did not deal with digital assets. This is because many people who were of the age that they would consider leaving property to heirs did not have email accounts, data stored on hard drives or electronic profiles. As we draw closer to 2015, millions of people have digital assets, as keeping digital copies of music, pictures and important documents has become commonplace.
So when a person passes away, instructions must be made to deal with email accounts, cloud storage information and passwords that protect the owner leaves behind? After all, this information does not disappear into a vacuum when its owner no longer is around. Because of this, technology companies have been developing policies for what to do with unaccompanied accounts (such as an email or online trading account).
Even with these policies, considerations should be made to transfer (and safeguard) digital assets against unauthorized use? Therefore an estate plan that deals with digital assets should:
– Organize data by including information from a variety of sources
– Include detailed language that will allow trusted individuals to access information
– Provide instructions on how to use the information if needed
– Allocate ownership of particular pieces of data
Keep in mind that even with these basic guidelines, there is no set standard for protecting digital assets, given the diversity of property that people may have, as well as who their potential beneficiaries may be. If you have questions about how to structure your will, an experienced estate planning lawyer can help.