Digital Assets in Your Estate Planning Documents
Do you have email, use online banking, and/or have Facebook and Twitter accounts? Most likely, the answer is yes. There are specific laws prohibiting social media companies from allowing access to your accounts (including email!) after you've died, unless you've prepared in advance.
Bank Account AccessIf you use online banking, ask yourself this: what will happen to my automatic payments once I'm dead? Until a financial institution (or the company who is receiving your payments) is notified of your death, this money will continue to leave your bank account every month.
You need a Will so that you can name a Personal Representative (PR) to take care of your estate once you've passed away. Without the court's approval, your PR won't be able to access your bank accounts and stop automatic payments (among other necessary money-management issues). The same goes for a Power of Attorney: if you're incapacitated, you need someone to manage your finances until you are able to do so again.
Without naming an Agent in a Power of Attorney, or naming a Personal Representative in a Will, bills may go unpaid, or be continue to be paid automatically long after you're dead (which will create a hiccup in your family's ability to carry out your wishes).
Social Media & EmailDid you know that once Facebook or other social media companies find out that you've died, they may deactivate your account? This applies even for email with Google, Yahoo, or Outlook. What happens to all of your information? Your family wouldn't be able to visit your profile, look at your photos, and relive memories - which is extremely important and sentimental for surviving family members and friends.
Avoiding this is easy, but many people just don't think about it when it comes to their estate planning: specifically list your social media and email accounts in your Power of Attorney, as well as in your Will or other estate planning documents. It really is that simple.