Estate Planning For Your Digital Estate in Virginia

Digital estate planning is, in many respects, more complicated than traditional estate planning. Whereas finding and managing financial and hard assets after a loved one has died or become
Digitalincapacitated isn't always straightforward, identifying and gaining access to the digital assets of a loved one is apt to be an even more cumbersome process.

Our lives are ever more wired. We have devices, passwords, and bits of data coming to define us in ways both personal and financial. It would seem that there should be clearly defined legal steps to take for the management of our digital estates in the event of incapacity or death. Unfortunately, such legal steps are elusive, at best.

Since it would seem only logical (let alone practical) to make legal plans for the management and succession of our digital estates, what is one to do without a clearly defined body of law on the subject?

There is a patchwork of laws in some places, and some services have thought ahead to help those planning their estates. Nevertheless, the burden inevitably falls on the planners and their loved ones to really come to terms with those important digital assets, whether personal (a Facebook account) or downright valuable (a bank account or even a registered domain name).

The first step in planning your digital estate is to recognize the need. Thereafter, consider the following four step process outlined in a recent Morningstar article aptly titled “Do You Have a Plan for Your Digital 'Estate'?”:

  1. Do a fire drill: if you lose your electronic assets, or if someone takes them away,
    or if a loved one can never lose them again (and so on and so forth), then what
    is lost? What would I want a loved one to have access to?
  2. Take an inventory: list it out, [securely] document the passwords, and make your
    heirs aware of your inventory.
  3. Back it up: create a backup of any digital assets you can, whether cloud based,
    locally stored, or otherwise.
  4. Put your plan into writing: if it is not written down and available then it is not
    a plan at all, but rather a hope, and all the more so with digital assets that
    do not have common law precedents to guide your heirs. 

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia.  Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning. 

Reference: Morningstar (October 3, 2013) “Do You Have a Plan for Your Digital 'Estate'?

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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.