Include Important Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

Your digital presence can remain long after you die

So much of our lives is lived online. We post videos and photographs, important papers and correspondence—and so much more. Even so, many people overlook their digital lives when creating an estate plan. But just like you need a will or durable power of attorney, you need to determine how your digital life will be handled if you die or are incapacitated.

Recognizing this, New York State law was updated in September 2016 to specify how digital assets and digital communications should be handled. The first thing you should do is create a digital inventory that includes of all your digital assets along with user IDs and passwords. Digital assets include applications that are accessed online via desktop, mobile or tablet devices:

  • Online calendars and contacts applications, including Google, Apple, Microsoft Outlook and other calendar and contact applications.
  • Online financial accounts, including E-Trade, Chase, Wells Fargo, bitcoin and other online banking, money management, credit card, loan, insurance and investment accounts.
  • Social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media. In your Facebook profile, you can designate what will happen to your Facebook page and who will manage your Facebook Legacy page. You should also consider what will happen to any organization or affinity group pages that you administer.
  • Photographs, videos and other digital media, including YouTube, Facebook, Google, Shutterfly, Pinterest, Instagram, iTunes and other websites where you store pictures, recordings and other media.
  • Documents and forms such as TurboTax tax returns, Social Security statements and other important documents.
  • Internet-based businesses, including revenue from advertisers on your social media or other webpage; a business managed via etsy, eBay, Amazon or other ecommerce platform.
  • Digital files such as Google Docs, Carbonite, Drop Box, iCloud and similar applications where your files are stored or backed up online.
  • Digital wallets and mobile payment apps, including Apple wallet, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Veemo and similar apps.
  • Communications platforms, such as Gmail, Outlook email, Yahoo!, Skype, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and similar email and communications apps.

Your digital life does not end if you die or become incapacitated

Once you have listed your digital assets and how to access each of them, you should set up a digital asset plan that specifies who may access these assets. This can be your will’s designated executor, an additional digital executor, or different individuals for different accounts. It’s a good idea to store your digital asset inventory and plan documents in a secure space online, with a duplicate in your safe deposit box

Be sure your digital assets are protected if you die or become incapacitated. An experienced New York estate planning attorney can help you determine the best strategy for organizing, securing and distributing your digital assets.

Contact the attorneys at Lissner & Lissner LLP to create your digital asset plan

The New York estate planning attorneys at Lissner & Lissner LLP can advise you on how to include your digital assets in your estate plan. Located in midtown Manhattan, we have been helping our clients with estate law for more than 65 years. We can help you create a digital asset plan that works for your specific situation. Call (212) 307-1499 or contact us online today for help protecting your digital assets.

Micheal Lissner
About the Author: Michael Lissner
Micheal D. Lissner is an experienced trust and estate planning and administration attorney serving the New York City area. He handles cases ranging from estate planning to trust administration, medicaid planning, elder law, and representation of survivors of the Holocaust and their heirs