David’s Take on Digital Assets (a peak into our monthly newsletter, the Navigator. Check it out here!)
Are you paying attention to your Digital Assets?
Everyone is familiar with their bank accounts, IRAs, 401k, and so many more assets that should have beneficiary designations to ensure these assets transfer smoothly after death. But who has thought about the digital assets that are trending up in popularity these days, like Venmo, PayPal, Robin Hood, to name a few. These apps are likely to hold some amount of actual funds, but have no way to determine a beneficiary. Bitcoin and its ilk are in the same spot. As an account holder, you need to be aware that such assets will require a probate of your estate to transferred after you pass away. Lest you think that someone can log in and just transfer the funds, these “apps” assets are backed by regulated companies and making that transfer after death would violate several federal and state laws. It is likely that these companies would also be notified by the Social Security Administration of your death within a week (usually) and the account may be frozen until a probate is initiated. When working with your attorney, be sure to mention having these types of accounts.
Aside from financial accounts, other online accounts (collectively, digital assets) are vital for your family to be aware of and have the authority to access. Most important of these online accounts will be your primary email account. Years ago, probate attorneys only had to advise clients to take charge of the mailbox in front of the deceased’s home. Now, the e-mail box is even more important, with monthly bills and statements going paperless. As part of your planning, ensure that you have at least these two, and maybe three things in place regarding your e-mail:
1) have a fiduciary designation document in place permitting your representative access to your email, logins, phones. and websites. This is a particular document that we are happy to provide to our clients;
2) have the login information available for your representative (so long as the proper fiduciary authorizations are in place); and
3) some companies such as Google and Facebook allow for a “legacy” representative to be named. It may be useful to investigate this option and complete the process to ensure there is unencumbered access to these accounts.
Finally, there’s all the other social media, Amazon, streaming, and even Internet-of-Things (IOT) logins to consider. So many homes and even vehicles have online accounts that need to be accessed, otherwise there is a real danger of those accounts being hacked and ending up with a digital poltergeist home.
I’m happy to discuss these digital assets with clients to ensure that the proper planning is done up front, and if necessary, how to address these tricky online accounts after a loved one has passed.
Did you know you can book an appointment online?
You can do that as well as obtain more information regarding digital assets by checking out This Page.