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Estate planning for digital assets is more than just sentimental

Technology has certainly made it easier for people to manage certain aspects of their lives. For example, people in Oklahoma can pay bills, make purchases and handle investments all online and even automatically. However, because many of these types of accounts contain vital and private information, people often secure them with passwords. Estate planning now must consider how an estate executor, trustee or heir will access those accounts if the account holder becomes ill or passes away.

Online accounts are not limited to bank accounts and bill paying; some may hold a balance on a favorite online shopping or game site. Even the music people purchase for download is an asset. A loved one may have earned loyalty points, created a lucrative website or built a following with a blog. All of these are considered digital property. Some may not consider that social media pages like Facebook are assets, although many people keep pictures and videos on their social media.

In order to ensure that digital assets will be dealt with appropriately, it is recommended that people include them in any estate planning. Some websites, such as Facebook, have their own agreements for personal accounts after the owner no longer needs them. Each state is also governed by laws allowing or prohibiting one's representative to access those accounts if the owner becomes incapacitated or dies.

One step people are taking more often is to inventory their online assets and passwords, then appointing someone trustworthy to maintain or close those accounts at the appropriate time. This can be a crucial part of complete estate planning. To understand the laws regarding digital assets in Oklahoma, those taking the step to prepare their estates may wish to speak to an attorney knowledgeable in that area.

Source: kiplinger.com, "Put Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan", John M. Goralka, June 15, 2017

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