Friday, April 6, 2018
The process of transferring digital assets to beneficiaries may not be as simple as listing the assets in a written will. Many times, digital assets like social media and email accounts, require transfer through different methods that must be in accordance with the associated company’s terms. When making decisions regarding the transfer of these assets, it is important for individuals to consider whether they want to grant their beneficiaries perpetual unmitigated access to their accounts, or if they would prefer to limit their access. Though beneficiaries with full access to a decedent’s online presence have more control and decision-making authority with regard to the accounts, there are significant drawbacks. One of the major risks is post-mortem fraud. Each year, there are fresh cases where the family of a deceased individual becomes victim to an online malcontent hijacking their deceased loved one’s account. The damages in these cases range from online defamation to serious financial fraud.
See Inna Fershteyn, Digital Assets Estate Planning — Alternatives to Perpetual Access, Brooklyn Trust and Will, March 23, 2018.
Special thanks to Alexander Evelson for bringing this article to my attention.