In the years before the Internet, planning someone’s estate could be as simple as walking through the person’s home, taking inventory of the personal possessions he or she had, locating any retirement accounts, bank accounts, or investment accounts the person owned, identifying real property in which the person had an interest, and then drawing up a will that accurately reflected what the person wanted to happen to each of these items of property. (This could be challenging in and of itself, but at least it was relatively easy to find the property that the person owned.)
The Changing Nature of Estate Planning
In today’s digital age, however, locating a testator’s property for purposes of estate planning is decidedly more challenging. A person may have money in bank or investment accounts with financial institutions that have no physical location. A person may have a considerable amount of money invested in Bitcoin or other digital currency. The person’s image, likeness, and other personal information may be found on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts. A comprehensive estate plan will take into account the disposition of these additional “assets.”
What Do I Need to Tell My Estate Planning Attorney?
When you decide to meet with an Ohio estate planning attorney or you decide to craft your own will and estate planning documents, the following questions should be considered:
- What nontangible or digital assets do you have (such as Bitcoin or other digital currency, social media accounts, online investment or banking accounts, etc.)?
- Who do you want to administer these assets? Do you want your estate’s administrator to handle them, or would you prefer someone who is more “tech-savvy” to be responsible for carrying out your final wishes as to these assets?
- Are any passwords or answers to security questions required to access these accounts? If so, what are those passwords and/or answers to security questions?
- Does the platform or entity holding or hosting your digital assets require any specific designation forms that identify the person with whom they are permitted to interact after your death? For example, some social media platforms have a specific form that you will need to complete that will direct the platform to discuss your account or allow access to your account after your death.
- Who needs to know about my digital assets and how to access them? The information about your digital assets and how to gain access to them should be communicated to either the person who will be administering them, to your estate’s administrator (if different), your attorney, or someone who will remember this important information when the need arises.
Be sure that if you update your passwords or access information for any of these accounts that you make appropriate updates to your estate plan. Some digital assets (like Bitcoin) can be forever kept from your decedents if the person trying to access such accounts does not have the correct and updated password.
Dawes Legal, LLC Helps Ohio Families Prepare for the Future
At Dawes Legal, LLC, we are committed to helping our clients prepare an estate plan that encompasses all of their assets – tangible and intangible – and protects these assets from loss. Our clients are able to rest easy knowing that if the unexpected and tragic happens, their loved ones will be provided for and their assets will be looked after in accordance with their wishes. Contact Dawes Legal, LLC so that we can put our firm’s knowledge and experience to work for you. Call (614) 733-9999 to schedule your case consultation with us.