Why Digital Media Should Be Considered in Probate

The past fifteen years have opened up a common problem in probate courts concerning what happens with a person's digital asset ownership after their death. While pressure is put on a person to ensure that their property and assets are taken care of, digital assets can go overlooked.

What are digital assets?

Digital assets are pictures on Facebook and Instagram, the online presence of a business, a shared Netflix account, or iTunes information. It can also include very serious accounts such as online banking accounts, business management accounts, or domain names. Many of these online spaces prevent the transfer of information to another even if permission is granted in a will.

When a person speaks with an attorney to develop a will or a trust, a conversation should be had about any digital media assets that exist. Working with an attorney can help ensure that a comprehensive list of digital accounts are created, with access information, passwords, and security questions that may be encountered.

How to Protect Digital Assets in Probate

When a will goes through probate court, the all information contained in the document is entered into public domain. If a person includes personal passwords for their accounts in this document, they leave this information open to the public. This is one of the ways that hackers can get access to accounts and steal a deceased person's identity for their own gain. Development of a trust for digital media can be the best bet to ensure that information does not enter public domain.

The best way to give family members and loved ones the digital information they may need without that information going public is to create a private and separate document that contains all digital account information. This can give access to the people that need it without the information becoming public knowledge.

Further, any accounts that can be transferred out of the individual's name and into a third-party name should be done. For example, if a person owns an Etsy shop online, it would be best to open the account in the business name or to transfer the name while the person is alive to avoid any complications.

A probate attorney would be best suited to answer any questions a person has about how their digital accounts factor into their estate plan. Contact one of the local attorneys in our probate directory to get started today!

Categories: Probate