Does Your Estate Have Digital “Assets”? Does Your Estate Plan Reflect That?

Posted on January 12, 2011

Driving yesterday evening, I switched from the BCS Bowl Championship game to Fresh Air on NPR.  A fascinating interview was being conducted with the owners of the web site, The Digital Beyond.  They were discussing digital assets, such as web sites, Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, as well as e-mail.

About 7 years ago, a friend of mine died who had named me as the executor of their estate.  This person had a web site that generated thousands of dollars a month.  This person also had only a will that they themselves wrote and no disclosure or planning for the continuing care of this very valuable stream of income.  The value of the web site very quickly ran out as if it were water in the desert.  It was sad to see.

I want to link you an NPR site which recaps the interview as well as the interviewee’s web site article on this topic.  [See also this recent article on the same topic in the New York Times.]

The big takeaway from all this?  If you have digital assets, you need to:

  • Name a digital executor in your estate planning documents
  • Write down in some form the location of your digital assets and their passwords
  • Verbally alert both your executor and digital executor as to the location of this information

This is only one example of specialized estate planning that people (even lawyers!) rarely consider.  Example: in California, lawyers need to nominate someone to wind up their practice.  That person must also be a lawyer.

What are the chances that you’ve missed something if you’ve thus far chosen to “do it yourself”?  I’m going to offer you a relatively pain-free way to find out.  If you’ll mention this blog post when you contact me, I’ll offer the first two people to contact me a complimentary Family Wealth Planning Session, normally $750.00.  Find out about those nasty surprises that could be lurking in your estate before they become a headache for those about whom you care.  Call today.

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