Protecting Digital Assets

Privacy Book by Jay Lashlee and Private Trust Book

Computers and the Internet

Digital assets – which include text messages, computers, online accounts, files on your phone, or any files stored on the internet that you own, are a legacy of your life, and may be valuable assets. How they are handled following the death of their owner is a rapidly developing area of estate planning law.

Damage and Theft

Earlier this week, a news story out of Virginia recounted the tale of a family who has been barraged by emails from their dead mother’s Yahoo! email account since her passing two years ago. A hacker got into the deceased woman’s account and is using her address book to spam family members and friends. The family tried to get the account closed, but the hacker had already changed passwords and account presets. Yahoo! said they could not close the account until the family produces a death certificate.

Legacy and Reputation

So what can we do to plan for what happens to our digital assets once we’re no longer here? Putting all your digital asset information in your will is not a good idea, since a will becomes public record once it is probated. Plus, making frequent changes to a will every time a new account is added or a password is changed is unwieldy and expensive.

Lists of Information for Your Successors

Photos, music, videos, movies, documents, text, usernames & passwords, photosharing, diaries, schedules calendars, appointments, contacts, banking, social media, emails, licenses, file sharing, investments, financial accounting, taxes, domains, admins, websites, hosting, webmasters, online business, automatic payments, receivables, notes, registrations, receipts, checks, consignments, relatives, employees, administrators, professionals, associates, and more?

Power and Control

Drafting a separate document that lists all your digital assets in the form of a letter of instruction to your executor or agent is a better idea. You can provide instructions on which accounts should be deleted, which should be passed on, and so forth. This document should be kept with your other estate planning documents, but should probably not be passed on to family members until you’re gone.

Ownership and the Future

You also have the choice of setting up a revocable trust for your digital assets if you are so inclined, or use the services of an online digital asset afterlife provider that, often for a nominal fee, stores all your digital assets for you and your eventual heirs.

See more...

  1. Protecting Files, Family Movies, Records, and Digital Assets
  2. Protecting Your Estate From Lawsuits
  3. Protecting Your Wishes and Managing Your Estate Plan
  4. Protecting Diplomas, Licenses, Permits, and Original Documents
  5. Chart Comparing Protection of Trusts/Corporations/LLCs
  6. Business Planning for Professionals
  7. Bankruptcy Protection
  8. Protecting Artwork, Hobbies, Coins, Stamps, Guns, Photos, Music, and Records
  9. Family Business Safety, Success, and Transfer
  10. Maximum Protection with Multiple Trusts
  11. Private Asset Protection Trust
  12. Protectors of the Trust
  13. Get a Private Asset Protection Trust Quote

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