Estate Planning in the Digital Age

Assets in the cloud“You have to plan ahead… As more wealth moves into the cloud, good luck tracking this stuff.”

Andrew Magliochetti always feared dying without an estate plan, so in his 20s, he prepared a will. In addition, he listed his digital assets, which include digitized family movies and social media accounts, plus some assets that are more esoteric, like digital currencies and domain names. Magliochetti then stored his passwords, including those for Facebook and Twitter, on a password manager that his brother, who is his estate executor, could easily find. He uploaded family photos and movies to the file-hosting service so that they are easy to share. (This guy sounds too good to be true!)

Many people neglect to include digital effects in their estate plans, which can be a huge mistake, as valuable assets may go unnoticed, or money and time might be spent attempting to find them. There are some assets like digital currencies, video game characters, and Internet domain names that exist only in cyberspace. You can’t put these in a safety deposit box: they can be overlooked because they aren’t as tangible. These days, folks are acquiring more digital assets like Facebook photos or email addresses all the time. However, getting access to social media accounts can be difficult because laws governing digital assets vary by state. Online sites concerned with user privacy have drastically different terms and conditions that sometimes exclude executors.

Create an inventory of your online accounts and their passwords—but don’t include them in your will. Wills should not be changed as often as you change your online account information. Simply explain how you want each account handled if you die, with the terms and conditions for each site included. Save this inventory in an encrypted file, a safe, and with your estate planning attorney. You should also authorize your executor to obtain access to devices and online accounts and reset passwords.

Keep your photos on a computer or local storage device rather than an online site so they’re easier to retrieve. Better yet, save them on two storage devices in separate places, like a home safe and a lawyer’s office. Some assets can’t be passed on to heirs. An iTunes library can’t be passed as digital music and e-book purchases are nontransferable because they’re licensed to the user. You can only leave these assets if a user agreement permits it.

Reference: New York Times (November 11, 2015) “Plan Your Digital Legacy, and Update Often”


Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

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.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

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.