Here on Epilawg, we already have great articles about the estate planning for social media accounts and the importance of having an estate plan that addresses ownership of digital art. This article will address the importance of giving fiduciaries information about digital assets for a smooth administration of your incapacity and estate plans.
It makes sense to give fiduciaries knowledge of and sometimes access to online accounts. In the case of incapacity, an attorney-in-fact can review and pay bills for accounts that you pay online if he or she knows of the accounts that you have where to find the passwords. More importantly, in order to properly administer an estate, a personal representative (aka executor) will need a list of all accounts – especially the ones you managed online - and he or she will need to know what to do with those accounts.
So, how do you keep all of your online information secure while also sharing your passwords only when absolutely necessary? First, get organized. Make a list of your online accounts including email, social media, banking, shopping, online picture accounts, data storage. Next, read Jim Lamm’s blog article on a decedent’s online accounts and passwords. He has great resources for password storage. Third, create a system for keeping and sharing passwords that works for you. Fourth, decide how and when you want your fiduciaries to access your accounts. And last, discuss the distribution of your digital assets and the management of your online accounts with your estate planning attorney. He or she can help ensure that your estate plan properly reflects your wishes. Estate and incapacity planning is not always exciting, but a thorough estate plan will make management and administration of your assets much easier on your fiduciaries.