Who Owns Your Digital Life When You Are Gone?
By now, we all know that we need secure passwords when we are online whether we’re shopping on Amazon, logging into our bank accounts, or signing onto Instagram. But have you ever thought about what happens to all of that data after you die? Most people haven’t, but they should. Leaving any form of web presence after you are gone without having a plan for those electronic assets can cause unnecessary cost and stress for those you leave behind. Fortunately, there are now ways to prepare for how your digital assets will be handled when you die.
Think about how much we do online. We access our financial accounts, we store photo collections, we manage subscriptions, we pay bills, we sell things, the list goes on and one. Once you are gone, how will your heirs, or the executor of your estate, know the sum of your online presence? In days past, heirs could look through your filing cabinet or desk and find a paper trail that documents those activities but those days are long over.
It is almost impossible to gain access to someone’s digital assets unless you have specific authority to do so. Although Google and Facebook allow you to appoint a person to manage your accounts when you die, most other online providers do not. And how would your executor even know which accounts to look for? Do they know which accounts you even have? The easiest way around these difficulties is to make sure you appoint a “Digital Executor” and make sure that you leave them the information they will need.
Pennsylvania law now allows for the designation of a digital executor in your Will. The Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC is one of the few estate planning law firms that considers and advises clients on the disposition of their digital assets, something we were doing long before the legislature caught up and made it the law. Plus, with our “Pay Once, Revise for Life” estate planning program, you only pay a fee once – when you initially draft and sign your estate planning documents. We never charge for revisions, so you can feel comfortable calling us to make changes at any time and know that the meter won’t be running.
Please call our office at 610-446-3457 or send us an email and we will send you our estate planning questionnaire so that you can rest easy knowing your loved ones can manage your estate as easily, and as stress-freely, as possible.