Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Digital Disasters After Death

Digital Assets After DeathAs I have previously discussed, some states have addressed the difficulties with digital asset management after death. Communication has evolved, gradually making some important asset information only available online. As a result, if the decedent does not enact a plan for his digital assets, then the passwords, security questions, and other web safety assurances may delay or prevent someone from carrying out the decedent's wishes. Now, many estate planners are faced with digital disasters after their clients pass.

While some states are addressing the after death digital management difficulties, other states are addressing the privacy issues by enacting anti-hacking laws restricting access to online accounts for privacy protection. Consequently, families and representatives of a decedent in these states are left with fewer options. There is no uniform body of law, state or federal, concentrating on the digital asset management issue; however, there are some solutions available to help with the problem. Some are as simple as keeping an updated paper list of online accounts, passwords, and security question answers in a safe place, or including a provision in a will or trust. Some solutions are more complex. Consumers can buy software for password management or hire companies that secure your accounts. These options usually make private information available after death. Digital asset management will depend on the individual, but as time goes on, it is becoming more necessary for both estate planners and families to discuss the topic.

See Kenneth P. Brier and Julia A. Rossetti, Death In The Digital Age, Private Wealth Magazine, Jan. 4, 2013.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2013/01/digital-disasters-after-death-.html

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