October 24, 2014
Where do you store your vacation photos? Many of your memories are likely to be saved on your computer or on Facebook. That means it could be difficult for your family to retrieve them without your password in the event of incapacitation or death.
Photos aren’t the only digital assets that concern estate planning attorneys. James Lamm, a Principal in the Trust, Estate, and Charitable Planning group of Minneapolis law firm Gray Plant Mooty, first encountered the challenges posed by digital assets about five years ago, after the death of a client who kept financial statements on his computer and filed online tax returns.
“He didn’t have paper records, and his computer had a password, so family members couldn’t get into it,” Lamm says. Ultimately, they had to hire a computer technician to circumvent the password.
What are digital assets?
A digital asset is any electronic record. Your digital assets might include data stored on your smartphone or computer, email accounts, Web pages, domain names, virtual currency, blogs, or social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter. “The definition is evolving, because the technology is evolving and new channels are being created,” says Sally Mullen, Chief Fiduciary Officer at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.