Spring 2017 Newsletter
Spring air is finally here - breathe it in and enjoy this glorious weather!
As part of your "spring cleaning" it's a good idea to review your estate plan. If you're a client of mine, you already have a detailed summary which makes it quick and easy to see your general estate plan, as well as specific provisions, including who you named for certain positions. Even if you have no changes to make, it's wise to review the summary to make sure what you have in place still matches your intentions.
Spring also brings graduations, from high school and college. It's important that your adult children have a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy. Once they turn age 18, you, as parents, no longer have the legal right to act for them or access their information.
Today's Topic: Digital Assets
More and more of our assets are digital, whether they're online financial accounts, photos stored in the cloud, social media, or email accounts. Unfortunately, the laws are lagging behind the technology. Many states are adopting laws for digital assets and estate planning, but Massachusetts has not yet done that. Even with new laws, certain providers (i.e. Facebook and Google) have their own rules for what happens upon an account owner's death.
Also, because of
various laws and agreements, it might be illegal to use your family member's password, for example, to log into his or her email to retrieve bills or other important data.
Here's what I recommend until the law provides more clarity:
Inventory: Make a separate list of your "digital assets". This would include online financial accounts (account #'s and passwords), as well as digital assets such as email accounts, LinkedIn, social media, frequent flyer miles, ebay, apple, dropbox, paypal, digital music, subscriptions (Netflix, amazon prime, amazon kindle, etc.). You should give this to your named Executor or keep it private but let them know where the list is.
Password Manager: Keep a "live" list of accounts and passwords. You have the option of using a password manager program or app.
2. Intentions/Instructions: Make a list of your instructions for different digital assets (whether to delete account, memorialize, etc.).
4. Digital Executor: Decide whether you want to have a "Digital Executor" in your Will - a person (different from your regular Executor) to be in charge of your digital assets and to assist your regular Executor with digital issues after your death (primarily non-financial assets). The Digital Executor should be a tech-savy and highly organized family member or close friend. Ideally this person should have some information about your digital assets from you during your lifetime. If you don't name a separate Digital Executor, the regular Executor you name will be in charge of your digital assets. Either way, your Will and Power of Attorney should specifically allow the fiduciary to deal with digital assets.
Services: There are a number of services that can assist you in managing your digital assets, during your lifetime and after your death. Online services store your information and assist with digital asset locating; Consulting services will assist you with creating, organizing and managing your digital assets. Here are a few:
- Chronicle of Life (non-profit): storage of photos, videos
- Dig.me: organizes social media and email accounts
- Everplans: comprehensive digital asset organization, names "deputies" to access the plan, full control over who sees which information
- SecureSafe: password management, data inheritance tool, name digital beneficiaries, file manager
Here are links to 2 excellent articles on this topic:
As always, feel free to call or email me with any questions at all.