Your digital assets are included as part of what you own. Digital photos on Facebook or other websites, your business website, files stored on your flash drive, on the cloud or your online accounts such as PayPal, iTunes, e-commerce and eBay are all part of your property. If something happens to you and you become incapacitated or you pass away, none of your family would know how to locate these assets. They might not know where files are stored and your passwords. Your family could lose the sentimental value and memories of family photos of important events such as birthdays, weddings, graduations and anniversaries and/or the financial value of your digital financial accounts.
Dealing with Internet Service Agreements and Privacy Regulations
Not all accounts with cash such as PayPal and e-commerce may have policies about where your money goes once you pass away. It may not be possible to access the acccounts without getting a court order, which can be expensive. There is also the legal consideration that giving out passwords to these online accounts might be in violation of the service agreements you signed with Internet companies and violations of Internet privacy regulations if your family were to access your accounts. Their access to your account even if they possess the passwords could be considered a cybercrime.
Under current law, Internet companies that provide storage for digital assets are prohibited from disclosing account information, even to families, without a court order. Even going to court may not guarantee your access to the site. For instance, Facebook’s terms of service agreement prohibit it from providing access to family members, even with a court order. It might be good idea to post your digital photos in multiple places such as on your computer or your iPad where your family could access them easier if something were to happen to you.
Recommendations for Protecting your Digital Assets
Having a list of all your assets, including your digital ones and keeping it somewhere safe with your other legal papers such as in your safe deposit box or with your attorney is recommended. This way your family will have a complete list of what you own making it easier for them and/or the executor of your estate to obtain any necessary legal advice from a Miami estate attorney on how to get control of the assets so that they can be distributed to your beneficiaries and heirs.
It is important to also remember that any assets that are in your sole name at the time of your death are subject to Florida probate. If your assets are jointly owned, then they will pass outside the estate to the other owner. Any assets that you place in a trust also pass outside the estate. Assets placed in a trust are excluded from the value of your estate so your estate also saves estate taxes.
How a Miami Probate and Estate Attorney Can Help
By taking the time to incorporate your digital assets as part of your estate plan, you don’t have to worry about what happens to them, and you can control who gets them. A Miami probate and estate attorney can help you with your estate planning and prepare all the necessary documents that you need to make sure your digital assets are not lost in the web.
If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.