Digital Assets and Your Estate Plan

Digital Assets and Your Estate Plan

Sep 19, 2013

Does your Estate Plan take into account your digital assets?

So, you’ve thought about your funeral arrangements and who inherits your assets when you are no longer living. But have you thought about what happens to your digital assets when you die or are incapacitated?

What are digital assets?

Digital assets are your assets that exist primarily in the virtual world, or online. They include things like your Facebook  account, email accounts, photo books, Paypal accounts, websites, investment accounts, etc.  They also include files on your computer, mobile phone and photos, to name a few. These digital assets have sentimental, historical, and financial value.  The average value of a person’s digital assets, such as photo libraries, personal communication, and entertainment files, is about $55,000, a value based on sentimental attachments as well as financial investments in music, application, and software purchases.

So, what’s the problem?

Most people do not plan their estates with their digital assets in mind. In fact, these are often completely ignored. The problem arises when you become incapacitated or die. Your family members will not able to access your accounts unless you have given them a list of all of your accounts with the relevant passwords.  But even then, most online providers have restrictions in their terms of use that do not allow anyone other than you to access your account.


For example, when you sign up with Yahoo! you agree that your account is non-transferable. That means you cannot give anyone else access to your account. As soon as Yahoo! learns that someone else other than you is accessing your account because you have died, they reserve the right to terminate your account.


Facebook, for example, will allow a family member to close a loved one’s account or have it “memorialized” after jumping through several hoops, like providing death certificates and ensuring you are the rightful person to access the account.


Google has been the most innovative in this area. Earlier this year they launched a new feature called Inactive Account Manager which allows you to tell Google what you want done with your Google accounts, which includes Google Drive, Picasa, Web Albums, You Tube and more. You can choose to have your account deleted after a certain number of months of inactivity, or you can designated a trusted contact to receive your data,  among other features.

Regardless of the type of account, care must be taken to plan accordingly to ensure that ALL of your assets, including your digital accounts and assets, are addressed in your estate plan.

For more information on digital assets contact us at (818)649-9110 or email us at for a free consultation.

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