“Talk to your clients about how they want their online life handled after their death, Philip Herzberg, CFP® and attorney Michael Dribin advise financial planning practitioners. Digital assets may include:
- photo files
- email accounts
- social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube
- purchasing accounts (eBay, store accounts, PayPal, etc.)
Digitizing your personal and financial information online makes data easier to store and recall – for you! Bu, after you’ve died, family members might not be able to access those accounts unless you’ve made arrangements in advance, Herzberg and Dribin caution.
Under the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), owners of digital property in Indiana can name people in their estate planning documents who will have the ability to access their digital assets along with their financial assets.
Your “digital executor” can be named in your will, along with instructions on what you wish to have happen with your digital assets. That person will have the responsibility of following your wishes regarding each online account. You might want the executor to:
- simply close the account*
- “memorialize” the account by posting your obituary on it
- respond to new friend requests
- archive photos
The purpose of closing digital accounts which are no longer being used is to protect family members from identity theft. Your digital executor will need a list of all your online accounts, including the login IDs and passwords to access them. However, the authors warn, do not put user names or passwords in your will, because that document becomes public upon your death!
“It’s important to understand what your clients really own,” Herzberg and Dribin tell planners.
Digital assets (in addition to those listed above), might include domain names and even blogs, the authors caution.
With our objective of bringing peace of mind to individuals and families and avoiding confusion following the death of a loved one, at Geyer Law we agree: For most people today, digital assets must be included in the estate planning discussion. But remember NOT to list user names and passwords in your will!