Stachler Harmon Attorneys at Law
Where Are the Passwords for Your Digital Assets?
One of the more challenging areas of estate planning law today concerns digital assets. Many people have music libraries that consist of thousands of songs. Some may own electronic versions of books, used on devices like the Kindle or Nook. While these technologies are relatively new, these items, along with iTunes' catalogs are likely to grow over time and may at some point replace many tangible assets like books, CDs and records.
In a comprehensive estate plan, you should include these assets and, as important, the information necessary to use them, such as usernames and passwords. And this brings to mind other important digital information that should be in your estate plan, such as your social media accounts, as well as all of your electronic access to your bank accounts, credit cards, investments and any other asset that need an account information to access.
If you have numerous such accounts and have to change your passwords on a regular basis, just simply managing and keeping this information up-to-date could be daunting. As problematic as it may be, it will be necessary and important. If you are no longer available to access accounts using your fingerprint and your smartphone, some assets may become difficult to access or transfer according to your wishes.
This is yet one more reason to take care of these things while you can, as they may require much additional, and expensive, legal or administrative dealings to complete should you no longer be capable of providing that information.
By doing it as part of a comprehensive estate plan, you can greatly reduce the stress, expense and time necessary to do this for your heirs. Additionally, having numerous untended and unidentified accounts potentially increases the likelihood of information being compromised or hacked, which could also lead to theft, loss or dissipation of those assets.