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Preparing digital assets for probate administration

Estate planning provides guidance and direction for those who hold a legal interest in someone's assets. By detailing one's wishes and preferences, probate administration can be simplified and, in some cases, bypassed altogether. However, what many in Oklahoma overlook when planning their estates is the designation of rights for their digital assets. Unlike physical assets, many digital assets are protected by law and cannot simply be handed down to an heir without careful preparation.

To ensure a person's digital assets are disposed of according to his or her wishes, advisors say it is essential for those holding such assets to create an inventory. On this list should be the names and access information for all electronic accounts and subscriptions, including online payment plans. Without a list of these accounts, heirs may not even know that such assets exist, much less the passwords to access them.

Although an executor is appointed to oversee the disposal of estate assets, some people may want only certain loved ones to access their social media accounts or emails. Many of the providers of these accounts have policies regarding the designation of their accounts after the death or incapacitation of the account holder. For others, it is important for the account holder to explain his or her wishes in a trust or will.  

Laws regarding the transmission of digital accounts during probate administration vary in each state and change frequently. When discussing one's estate plan with an attorney, it will be helpful to inquire about the current laws for digital assets in Oklahoma. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to guide one in the most advantageous way to include digital assets in a will or trust.

Source: stockinvestor.com, "Tips for Putting Your Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan", Bob Carlson, July 28, 2017

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