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Estate planning and administration: Taking care of digital assets

The 21st Century has put an additional spin on planning for the future. When it comes to estate planning and administration, New York residents need to take into consideration their digital assets as well as concrete assets. Failing to do so means that an estate plan is not yet finished. 

Digital assets could include items that have financial value, like bank accounts, or credit cards that amass points, like air miles, or they may include those assets that are more emotional like family videos or digital photos. If people don't make mention of these types of assets in their wills or other estate planning documents, it may give family members the added burden of doing so amidst dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. As well, giving out passwords doesn't mean the law will look favorably on the person who is informally dealing with these types of assets. No one wants to be charged with fraud or unlawful use.

New York, along with other states, has passed a law giving an heir (or heirs) the right to access a deceased loved one's digital accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. But these individuals must abide by the rules of these sites. For instance, some sites will only allow the deceased person's designated executor or someone acting on power of attorney to access these accounts, and they must show proof of their identity.

With all the buzz around digital assets these days, having estate planning and administration documents in place for them is vital. A New York attorney may be able to offer advice on this newer estate planning issue. His or her guidance may save family members from having to ultimately clean up a digital mess left behind by their loved one.

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