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Accounting for Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

 Posted on August 06, 2018 in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersIf you have started the process of planning for your family’s future through a comprehensive estate plan, you have probably considered where many of your possessions will go. Perhaps your car will be gifted to a grandchild, while your home will be sold and the proceeds split between your children.

When deciding what will happen to physical property, many otherwise-dutiful estate planners forget about their digital assets. Have you considered what should happen to your personal documents and data stored online after you pass away? What about your social media accounts? The world is becoming more and more digitized with each passing day, and it is important we account for this in estate plans.

What Exactly Is Considered a Digital Asset?

Digital assets refer to items such as:

  • Email and documents stored in “the cloud”;
  • Marketplace accounts on websites like Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist;
  • Digital documents like Microsoft Word documents or Notepad documents;
  • Audio content such as songs downloaded from Spotify or iTunes;
  • Cryptocurrency;
  • Photographs and videos;
  • Video games downloaded on Steam or other digital platforms;
  • Call logs and text message history; and
  • Data stored on personal computers, laptops, tablets, and digital storage devices.

This list is not exhaustive and there are many more items which may be considered digital assets. It is also important to note that some digital assets are treated differently under the law than others. There are still many gray areas when it comes to how digital assets are treated as part of an estate. Estate planning law simply cannot keep up with the astounding technological progress we have enjoyed in the last 50 years.

2016 Bill Addresses Digital Assets But Does Not Completely Resolve the Confusion

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill in 2016 that gives trustees the authority to access the email accounts, social media accounts, and other digital assets of a deceased person. The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act became necessary after many executors were unable to fulfill their duties due to issues with accessing digital information. For example, many individuals manage and pay their bills online. When executors or fiduciaries could not access online accounts for loved ones who passed away, final bills went unpaid. Even worse, many families had priceless family photos and videos lost in the confusion over digital assets. While the law allows a fiduciary easier access to online accounts than before, it is still necessary for anyone drafting their estate plans to include directions regarding digital assets.

Speak with a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney for Help

If all of this sounds overwhelming, do not worry. An experienced Lombard estate planning attorney can walk you through the entire estate planning process. Call A. Traub & Associates today at 630-426-0196 to schedule a confidential consultation.



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