In today’s world, it is essential that clients plan for both real-life assets, as well as digital estates. This generates many questions: Who is in charge when it comes to digital property? Do family members have the right to access their loved one’s account after a death? Would the individual who has passed want family members to access their content, or to have the account removed?
These conversations go well beyond the topic of social media. It’s important to consider all the digital assets of the deceased, including email accounts, websites for online bill paying, and all other retail accounts.
Questions we must address:
1. What social media platforms do you use?
2. What are your passwords?
3. What would you like to happen to these accounts after you die?
Re: Deleting Digital Assets:
This is a very new area in estate planning, but an area that nonetheless must be addressed. Facebook offers memorializing a profile, Google and Twitter request copies of death certificates and government issued ID to verify an individual’s identity. These procedures are constantly changing and we need to check with each of them for compliance.
An Advisors role:
Estate planners believe it is becoming commonplace to discuss client’s digital information when preparing estate plans. This challenge is ongoing and at times in conflict with the “terms of service” box on many websites. We must address these issues to ensure a smooth transition of necessary information to our beneficiaries.