As technology changes, the nature of your assets change as well. To properly plan for your incapacity or death, your estate planning documents should include provisions regarding access, use, and control of your digital assets. Most people have one or more digital assets which include: online bank accounts, email accounts, social networking accounts, frequent flyer miles, downloaded music and books, digital photo collections, and PayPal accounts.
At your death or incapacity, your estate may incur losses if no one has access to your digital assets. It is becoming more common for people to stop paper bank statements, instead receiving all of their financial information online. If you do not provide someone with legal access to your digital assets, and the account information to access those assets, your bills may not be timely paid, or assets may be unknown and excluded from your estate. Additionally, if you maintain your photographs in a digital format, if no one has access to these digital photographs at your death, the photographs die with you and cannot be passed to your loved ones.
In order to avoid harm to your estate at your death or incapacity, your estate planning documents should include provisions authorizing your agent under your Durable Power of Attorney and your personal representative under your Last Will and Testament the ability to access, use, and control your digital assets. To assist with the management of your digital assets, you should inventory your digital assets and include the pertinent information to allow your agent and personal representative the authority to obtain access to the assets such as e-mail addresses, usernames, and passwords. An estate planning attorney can help you protect your digital assets by including provisions for your digital assets in your estate planning documents.