Individuals who think about estate planning often consider issues like who would take care of their children and where their assets will go. However, one part of estate planning that many do not consider is how to manage digital assets and property. This may appear to be a small issue to consider, but failure to do so has led to some newsworthy legal battles.
Once someone passes away, Internet service providers may balk at allowing family members to access email and social media accounts in the interest of protecting the individual's privacy. Without digital estate planning, documents and data that someone may have wanted to be able to pass on may end up being inaccessible.
Currently, the laws related to this type of estate planning are complicated, incomplete and conflicting; however, the passage of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act may help streamline the process. One thing that the act did that should clear up some problems is to state that a beneficiary granted access to tangible assets is granted access to their digital counterparts.
Even without the changes related to evolving technology, estate planning documents need to stay up-to-date to ensure that someone's wishes are carried out. Births, marriages, divorces and career changes can result in the need for someone to update their estate plan. A probate and estate administration attorney might help someone ensure that their documents are drafted in a way that follows current laws and is beneficial to them and their heirs. An attorney may also be able to assist heirs going through the probate process with any complicated asset division issues.
Source: Flip The Media, "I’ll Tweet When I’m Dead: Estate Planning in the Digital Age", Connie Rock, July 28, 2014