What Happens to Your “Digital Assets” After You Die?

When most people think about bequeathing their belongings, it’s the obvious: the house, the car, bank accounts, and the family mementos. But what about our online stuff? Go through a day and think about how many things you do on the internet. What happens to that virtual life when real life ends said Amy Holloran, a Sacramento estate planning attorney.

It’s a question that’s becoming increasingly relevant in a digital age. When it comes to writing a will or a living trust, these so called digital assets often get over looked. Yet dealing with them can be just as crucial as deciding who gets the family silver. We’re seeing these issues with increasing frequency, said Mark Drobny a Sacramento estate plan-ning attorney. If something were to happen to you tomorrow, who would you want to access your accounts?
The solution can be as simple as writing out a list of your online accounts with user names, passwords, and the designated person to handle them or as formal as inserting your online wishes into a legal document, such as a will, a living trust or a power of attorney form. BUT, unless these companies are officially noti-fied of a death, the deceased person can continue to live online.
In the past few years, a new crop of businesses have sprung up to help people designate a digital executor, someone who gets access to everything from your Facebook page to the 6,300 travel photos you’ve stashed on photo-sharing web-sites. They are given authority to execute your wishes on what accounts stay open, get transferred to someone else or get deleted forever.
Ideally, we all leave instructions for where we want our online accounts to go after we’re gone. If not, following are some of the requirements to close an online account: Death Certificate, Power of Attorney document, birth certificate, death notice, deceased’s e-mail address including headers that show email tracking details, copy of your driver’s license, email, and address. If your re-quest is ultimately denied, Google warns due to privacy concerns, we will not be able to share further details or discuss our decision.
To protect yourself and your loved ones, pick a digital executor, someone who’ll have access to your accounts and passwords.
Source and excerpts from: Idaho Statesman 12/20/11 article by Claudia Buck, McClatchy Newspapers