A person may own a lot more than they initially think. For example, a Michigan resident who does not own a home and has a modest income may not believe that they actually need an estate plan. However, they likely have many items of personal property, checking and savings accounts, and maybe even retirement investments that will need to be distributed upon their death.
In this day and age, they also may have a relatively modern form of property as well: digital accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat. Americans often create and maintain many online accounts to allow them to stay connected to their friends and family. However, when they pass on, there may be big questions about how those accounts can and should be managed by the decedents’ estate administrators.
A person’s digital life can survive them because these accounts do not disappear when a person passes away. In fact, they can exist perpetually without management unless a person makes plans for how they should be taken care of and these plans can be incorporated into the individual’s estate plan. One way that a person can protect their surviving digital life is to make sure that their administrator has access to their log-in and password information, so they can access the accounts following the account owner’s death.
Another way that a person can safeguard their digital accounts is by giving an estate administrator the right to manage digital accounts in one’s will or trust documents. Taking this step can prevent an administrator from being barred access to the decedent’s account due to existing state and federal laws. A person’s digital life can last for a long time and these items should be addressed in one’s end of life estate plan.