Digital Estate Planning
Digital Estate Planning
Serving Clients in New York City and the New York Metropolitan Area
We hear too many stories about a spouse or family member being told to get a court order in order to access their deceased loved one’s or incapacitated person’s digital or social media account, such as Amazon, Facebook, TikTok, Google, or LinkedIn. How can you plan ahead and spare your family the expense and delay involved in accessing your digital property? Many of us store our important legal and financial documents on our computers. More and more of us save our family memories and photographs on our social media accounts (“Digital Assets”). These could potentially be locked and/or lost if our family cannot gain access when we are incapacitated or have passed on. Here are some helpful things you can do to prevent this:
1. Inventory your Digital Assets
Compile a list of hardware, software, and online (including social media) personal and business accounts. At the Grimaldi Yeung Law Group, we have a Digital Diary Worksheet that you can find here [this should be a link to the Digital Diary]. Complete this worksheet and keep this list in a secure but available location. Advise your fiduciaries or a trusted family member of the location of this list.
2. Appoint your digital fiduciary
Update your Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, and other estate planning documents to appoint an agent who will manage your digital affairs/assets should something happen to you. It is customary to give this power to your executor, trustee, or agent designated in the Power of Attorney.
3. Enable your fiduciary to access your accounts
In addition to advising your fiduciary of your on-line and cloud passwords, create a back-up of your accounts on your local computer. If possible, store all of your passwords in one, secure location and advise your fiduciaries of where those passwords are located. If and where possible, consider placing your Digital Assets in your trust.
4. Prepare an Action plan for disposition of your Digital Assets
Do you want your websites or postings deleted after you die? Do you want certain people notified of your death or incapacity? Do you want specific updates or photos regarding your condition to be posted, or no information to be provided? Make your preferences known and clear to your agents and fiduciaries so they know what you want and have the authority to comply with your wishes.