While most Pennsylvania residents think of their home, bank accounts and other investments when they approach estate planning, there may be a critical part of life that they aren't thinking about: their "digital assets." These assets, which can include online accounts, social media accounts and cloud-based data storage, are all items that most people interact with on a daily basis. What will happen to these assets when a person dies?
As more people become aware of the need to include provisions for digital assets in their estate plans, hopefully these types of accounts and data will be addressed as each planner wishes. For some, there may be digital assets that need to be transferred to another person. For others, data may need to be deleted or access to an account closed down. It all depends on how "connected" a person is.
When Pennsylvania residents decide to include their digital assets and online accounts in their estate plans, there are a few different options. For starters, as a recent news article pointed out, it is usually not a good idea to directly record usernames and passwords in estate planning documents. Rather, a better option is to have a list of these items in a safe place, with directions in the estate plan on how to retrieve and use the items.
Estate planning can encompass a wide variety of assets. As technology has progressed over the last few years, more people are becoming aware of the need to address their digital assets in addition to financial and real estate assets.
Source: kvue.com, "Estate planning for your digital assets," Natalie Banta, Feb. 7, 2018