What Happens to Digital Assets and Accounts After Your Death?
The ubiquity of the internet and internet-connected devices has led to many people living a good portion of their lives online through various social media platforms, message boards and other types of accounts. These accounts and profiles are legally considered assets of the person who owns and controls them. But what happens to these digital assets after your death?
Here’s a quick look at some examples of popular online accounts and how you might choose to deal with them in your estate plan.
Every company has its own internal policies about how to handle accounts of deceased members. Facebook, for example, allows loved ones of the person who died to put the account into “memorial” status so that the account can still be viewed and people can leave messages behind. Other companies simply delete the accounts.
In any circumstance, if nobody informs the company of the death, it will likely not find out about it, so you might choose to have either your executor or a family member close the account, leave a final update or delete certain things from the account.
If you have photos, music or other files stored online, you might consider giving your executor access to those files and leaving behind some instructions as to what to do with them. If you do not leave access to your cloud account (think Google Drive, for example), eventually the account will become disabled and those files will be lost. If you care about the assets, it’s important to leave access instructions.
If you were an active seller on sites like Etsy, Amazon or eBay, there’s the possibility you have some money tied to those accounts. You’ll also want to make sure people are not still actively purchasing your products, as you’ll no longer be making or selling them. Therefore, it’s important to either transfer your account (if that’s a possibility) to someone who will take over from you or arrange to have the account closed.
For more tips related to managing digital assets and accounts in your estate plan, contact an experienced Tampa lawyer with BaumannKangas Estate Law.