Nearly everyone in Georgia has at least one digital account — even if it’s a social media account. What will happen to that and other digital accounts after death is more than likely not the first thought that crosses a person’s mind when they are opened. Known accounts will be subject to estate administration, and if any are not identified through due diligence, they could be missed. The result could be the non-receipt of an inheritance for an intended heir or beneficiary.
When creating an estate plan, it is important to identify all digital assets for family members and the estate. Once an inventory is compiled, the individual will have to determine whether to keep the user IDs and passwords with the list. Either way, there needs to be some way to match each account with its access information. There are numerous online storage options if a physical list is not preferred. Regardless, someone needs to know where the information is kept.
It will also be necessary to ensure that someone has the right to access the account. The rules will probably be different based on the type of account. Therefore, it might be necessary to contact each one if the terms and conditions are not clear.
The effort put forth up front by Georgia residents could save time and money that can be included for distribution when the time comes, regardless of whether the assets are digital, physical or otherwise. Including digital assets in an estate plan has become an essential part of the process. The more information an executor or personal representative has, the easier estate administration should go.
Source: marketwatch.com, “How to include your digital assets in your estate plan“, Andrea Coombes, Aug. 17, 2016