ISSUE: what happens when you or someone you know dies & you can’t get into their financial accounts which are only accessed online? Not just that, there other digital assets.
importance of providing for the distribution of digital assets after death.
THE PROBLEM: includes not being able to access online financial information due to lack of password information to inablility to update the deceased’s Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts.
Compounding the problem is that many states lack statutes and rues that determine who has rights to the deceased’s digital assets.
Think how damaging this could be if the decedent or POA principal owned a small business.
LIMITED SOLUTION: The named Personal Representative (executor, administrator or estate) must depend on the “terms and policies” that users agreed to. These provisions vary: eg. for access to a decedent’s email account, Google simply requires proof of death, while Yahoo! requires a court order.
LEGISLATION: At the time of this blog, only 8 states have laws giving Personal Representatives rights to a decedent’s social media assets.
PERSONAL SOLUTION: In the meantime, contact your estate planning attorney to consider provisions you can incorporate into your Power of Attorney and Last Will & Testament. Be careful giving the access information to one person. Perhaps consider splitting up the necessary information among two completely separate entities.
I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my Lastpass.com account information. Lastpass.com is wonderful way to keep up with all your passwords.
For More information, see T. Beas, Gone, but Social Media Not Forgotten: Social Media Estate Planning Update, 3/1/13, K. Brier & J. Rossetti, Death in the Digital Age, Private Wealth, Wall Street Journal 1/5/13.
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