Estate planning does not have to be about physical possessions and finances. With our world filling with technology and the digital world becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives, it is no surprise that one’s digital life can now be very valuable. You may have stored files online that are important, have a presence on a certain social network, have an online following as a writer or YouTuber, or have a certain online account. Regardless of what it may be, there are steps you can take with a lawyer to have your digital legacy handled as you see fit.
Types of Digital Property and Presence That One Can Consider for Digital Legacy Planning
If there is anything online that is important to you, you may want it to be handled a certain way when you pass away. For instance, you may want a family member or your lawyer to announce to friends and family on your personal Facebook account if you have passed away. Or you may want to have a post made if you have an online following as a blogger, so people know why you cannot post anymore. There are many possibilities.
Things to consider regarding your digital legacy include:
- Social networking accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn
- Media files such as music, photos, or videos you uploaded online
- A presence in online communities or listservs
- Access to financial accounts or utilities
- Blogs, vlogs, or websites
- Licensed domain names
- Seller accounts on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, etc.
- Entertainment accounts such as YouTube or Tumblr
- Administrative privileges on certain websites
Limitations of Online Accounts Regarding Wills and Estate Planning
It is important to understand that most online accounts are not actually considered your property. You are only considered as having a license to use them. The business that hosts you is technically the one that owns the account, and when you pass away, they can control what happens with that account. The only time it is fully considered your own property is if you created, own, and host the website on which your account is made.
Leaving Instructions for Your Lawyer for Your Digital Legacy
Just because you are limited on what you can do with your licensed accounts does not mean that there are no good options. You are still allowed to affect the fate of these accounts and how they are handled. You cannot legally transfer the ownership of the accounts, but you can leave instructions with your attorney or loved ones on what to do next. Don’t forget to leave crucial login information. Although you change passwords often, an executor can still get limited access to your accounts when necessary and requested.
Some examples of instructions you can leave for your digital accounts include:
- As a blogger, letting your readers know of your passing
- On a social networking account, letting friends and follower know of your passing
- Leave a final message in an online community you are a part of
- Have artwork or music you created sent to family or friends
- Shut down seller accounts so people don’t continue attempting to do business
- Leave full access to financial accounts and utilities so financial matters can be attended to with ease by your family
- Print or archive important emails about your company that may be useful to future managers or business owners
Contact a Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney for a Consultation About Document Organization in California
You deserve to have peace of mind about whether your loved ones will be taken care of after you are gone. The best way to plan for your future, and the future of your close family members or other loved ones, is to speak with an estate planning lawyer about your specific circumstances and financial situation. The experienced California estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman assist clients with wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. We represent clients in Granada Hills, Porter Ranch, Chatsworth, San Fernando Valley and throughout Southern California. Call us anytime at (818)-435-4728 or email us to schedule a confidential consultation. Our main office is located at 8912 Haskell Ave, North Hills, CA 91343.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.