Digital Assets and Estate Planning

Estate planning has never been easy for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s something most people just don’t want to deal with.

But with the growing (maybe exploding) use of digital media, estate planning has become even more complicated, in part because it is a challenge to reconcile what you put on paper in a will or other document with what you put out on the Internet. Exactly how to deal with your digital assets after your passing is an ongoing issue that some states, including Florida, have started to consider.

Think about this. You have social media and networking accounts including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter YouTube and others. What happens to them when you die?

Most of these social media platforms will not let someone – even a relative – have access to your accounts, although that is slowly changing. Facebook now allows you to name a legacy contact – a person who can post your obituary on your timeline and convert the site to a memorial page. But in order for that person to have access, you must identify them in advance to the social media platform and designate that they are in that role.

Even more complicated than what happens with your social media accounts is what transpires with your online social media accounts.

Florida passed the Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act in 2016. Described as a good first step by many in the field, this law identifies what would be considered digital assets. It also identifies who can be the custodian of your digital assets and gives them authority to work with your financial institutions.

But while the law is in place in Florida, it does not help you or your beneficiaries if you don’t take the necessary steps by which your assets can be dealt with after your passing, or after you become unable to communicate your desires and wishes.

So the best message I can give you is to act quickly to deal with all your assets in appropriate estate planning and be sure to include digital assets in that planning. As always, I can help you through that complicated process.

Posted in Advice, News.

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