What will happen to your Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts when you die? Who will have access to your online business website or professional blog?
If you suffer from a serious illness or temporary incapacity, what will happen to all the domain names you have registered or use? If your incapacity is permanent, who has the legal right to access your personal and business documents on Google Drive or Dropbox?
After your death, incapacity or disability, who can access and control all of your pictures and videos on Shutterfly, Periscope, and Youtube? Will anyone need to access, for any reason, your PayPal and Stripe accounts?
Don’t forget about your smartphones, tablets, and laptops? If the FBI finds it challenging to access the iPhone of terrorists, do you think your family or business partner will be able to gain access to information they stored away on your digital devices?
Valuable Assets Most People Don’t Think About
All of the above are important and potentially valuable digital assets that should be taken into consideration in both estate and business succession planning. According to McAfee, the average Internet user has over $37,000 in unprotected digital assets. As we move from building digital footprints to digital billboards, I think this number is going to continue growing at an exponential rate.
The fact of the matter is that 60% of Americans do not have a Will or Trust. For those that do, few have thought about including their personal and professional digital assets into their estate or business succession plans.
Making sure your digital assets are part of your estate, and business succession plans is necessary for two reasons:
- It will help minimize and possibly even eliminate probate, avoid probate fees and estate death taxes.
- It will help protect valuable business assets and prevent the chance of your business being disrupted by claims and lawsuits involving domains, websites, and challenges regarding intellectual property rights.
From both a personal and business perspective, being able to control how your digital assets should be handled after death (maintained, moved and even deleted) avoids misunderstands and really will help your legal heirs settle your affairs. Planning ahead and giving access to all your digital assets including online merchant account and bill payment services will allow executors, trustees, and family members to locate and settle these accounts. In the business world, it may allow your business to move forward and thrive rather than come to a screeching halt and disappear. Continue reading “How To Protect Your Digital ASS(ets) With Estate and Business Succession Planning”