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“To You, I Bequeath My Facebook Page”: Estate Planning For Your Digital Assets

June 19th, 2012

Digital assets have recently become a hot topic in the estate planning world. We first wrote about planning for digital assets in 2010, but the issue is worth revisiting.

When thinking about the assets in your estate, your Twitter account may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, your digital accounts also count as assets – as this article in the Financial Post notes, the average 65-year-old now has about 20% of their life recorded digitally, while a teenager may have up to 85%. Those digital assets can range from your LinkedIn or Facebook profile, to a PayPal account that contains funds from online transactions, even to your own online storefront on Etsy or Amazon. These accounts may exist only in the digital world, but they can potentially contain very real funds.

Despite the rapidly-increasing role that digital assets play in our lives, very few states have laws that stipulate who gets control of your digital assets once you die – only Ohio and Connecticut have passed laws regarding a decedent’s e-documents and assets, and only Idaho and Oklahoma explicitly give the executor of an estate the authority to deal with the decedent’s social media. You should therefore make sure that your estate planning documents have provisions that document your digital assets, stipulate who gets control of what, and detail what you would like to happen with each account. Here at Walsh & Company, we have several different options for dealing with your digital assets. That way, you won’t need to worry about whether your family will be forever locked out of your Facebook or PayPal account after your death.

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