People of all ages have embraced the Internet and all it provides. We can check international news, message a friend, and pay bills before even having our first cup of coffee in the morning. However, digital assets, including bank accounts, investment account, websites, and email still may exist long after we are gone. What will happen to your online presence after you die? It’s a thorny question that may be addressed through your estate plan.
General Tips Regarding Your Online Presence
After you pass away, your personal representative or executor will gather your assets during probate. In the past, most people kept paper records in their homes or safe deposit boxes. Such records usually were easy to access.
Today, many people keep records online in individual accounts or on the cloud. Your digital information may be lost unless your personal representative knows the locations and logins.
Keep a record of all your online information, including:
- Financial accounts,
- Insurance policies,
- Social media,
- Portfolios, and
Prepare a list for your personal representative to use after you are gone. However, please keep it in a very safe location.
Some of your online presence may need special attention, but you may have some help.
What Your Accounts Say About Your Online Presence
The companies that provide and manage your accounts may be referred to as custodians. Each custodian maintains terms and conditions regarding the use of their accounts.
Check the terms and agreements, profile, or settings for each part of your online presence. Some custodians recognize the need for someone to take over after your death and provide guidance for how to make that happen.
For example, Facebook allows users to designate a legacy contact who can look after your account after your gone. Financial institutions allow users to complete beneficiary designations so that funds in the accounts can be moved after the accountholder’s death.
Again, make sure your personal representative knows how to access your digital assets.
Include Your Online Presence in Your Estate Planning
Alabama law addresses necessary access to digital assets in the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, effective January 1, 2018 (the “Act”). The Act notes how a user may direct the treatment of digital assets after death.
Discuss all digital assets and online accounts with your estate planning attorney. You may include information about your digital assets in your Will. However, only include necessary information and not account numbers and login data.
Attorney Bruce Adams helps clients just like you with their legal needs. For a free consultation with an experienced Alabama attorney, contact us at 256-237-3339. Located in Anniston, we serve clients in Calhoun, Cleburne, Etowah, and St. Clair Counties.