Online cloud storage, digital currency, email, social media accounts, various online accounts and web domains are just a few of the many different types of digital assets numerous Illinois residents have. If you have any of these and lost them, it would likely be devastating to you and your loved ones. Fail to protect them properly in an estate plan, though, and lost is what they may become.
Protecting digital assets is not something many people think about when creating their estate plans, but with more of people’s lives being conducted online, this is something you don’t want to overlook. If you fail to protect your digital property, your loved ones may find it a struggle to gain access to them after you die.
What happens to these assets when you pass away?
When you pass away, what happens to your digital property depends on what the assets are and what the user agreements say. You may need to sign forms directly with the service providers giving a trusted individual access. Without this, the service provider may be under no obligation to pass the asset on to your heirs.
Does a will cover these assets?
Not necessarily. Again, it depends on the terms of the user agreement. It also depends on how your will is written. A will that gives authority to beneficiaries to access digital assets may be sufficient, but if it doesn’t, they may meet some resistance when they attempt to gain access.
Are these assets covered under my power of attorney?
Here again, wording is everything. A POA can cover a lot of ground, but if you fail to give your agent permission to take care of your digital property, they may not have the authority to access or manage them. So make sure to be very specific on what the agent’s role, rights and duties are.
Already have an estate plan in place?
Old estate planning rules may not offer the protection you need or want for digital assets. If you already have an estate plan in place but are unsure if it still works for what you need, it may be a great time to get your plan reviewed and updated. As rules regarding estate plans often face revision, it is actually wise to review your plan every few years to make sure it still meets your needs.
Protecting your digital assets is possible, but it does take some work. Thankfully, you can get help making sure your estate plan keeps all your property, digital or otherwise, safe and, when the time comes, easily accessible to your beneficiaries.