Drafting Your Estate Plan? Don’t Forget the Cloud

Drafting Your Estate Plan? Don’t Forget the Cloud

Estate planning is an important process if you want to ensure the assets you’ve built up over your lifetime get distributed appropriately after you pass on. Good estate planning takes a number of things into account, including property, investments, business interests and, increasingly, digital property.

Today, an online presence is almost as important as real-life existence. Digital property might include websites, downloaded content, social media profiles, online gaming accounts, software, and email messages and accounts. Some of these assets, like music and websites, have financial value. Others, such as digital photos, may have significant sentimental value to entire families.

With social media accounts, most platforms do not give family members the right to take over the account upon a person’s death. In the case of Facebook, relatives are permitted to close the account or turn it into a memorial page. In five states, however, executors may take control of the deceased person’s social networking profiles across platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Additionally, some email providers turn over copies of messages to an executor, while still maintaining ownership. Apple’s iCloud service deletes all data when the account holder dies.

If a service provider does happen to allow relatives to have access to or ownership of digital property after a person’s death, it’s important for the will to include a list of who should be given access to protect privacy.

When it comes to estate planning, digital property is a relatively new concern. If you are about to start the estate planning process, an experienced attorney can answer your questions related to digital assets and your plan. Contact a Tampa Bay estate planning lawyer today to get started.