Does My Estate Plan Need a Digital Component? 

Home » Blog » Does My Estate Plan Need a Digital Component? 
February 10, 2023 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
At any given time, the average American maintains between 30 and 50 online accounts. These may be with banks, financial institutions, utility companies, email providers, social media outlets, commercial shopping or travel sites and accounts unique to technology, such as an account to purchase apps for a smartphone.
Robert W. Haley, managing lawyer
Robert W. Haley
Certified Elder Law Attorney® Robert W. Haley brings over 27 years of legal expertise and knowledge to his firm, which concentrates solely on the areas of elder law, estate planning (Last Will & Testaments, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, etc.,.) Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and fiduciary services. For many years, Robert practiced in real estate law, and in general practice, but decided to narrow his focus to elder law and estate planning when he realized the tremendous need for proper planning to be filled in Southside Virginia.

Modern estate plans should include “digital estate planning” to manage online accounts and online data. There are four specific steps to creating an effective digital directive, says American Legion’s recent article entitled “Estate planning and online accounts.”

  1. Create a List of Accounts and How to Access Them. Your list should specify the username, password account number and a description of what is included in each account. Make sure to keep this list up to date.
  2. Store and Protect Your Info. Develop a plan for storing information, including saving the list you compiled and backing up important data files and account information. Since an Digital estate plan contains sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords, it is important to maintain the security and confidentiality of this list.
  3. Designate a Digital Executor. The laws of many states give access to online accounts to the executor of an estate. However, in some cases, state law may restrict access, if the executor does not have the password or an estate plan does not clearly grant powers to the executor to access these accounts.
  4. Give Your Executor "Digital Directions." Draft a letter of instruction to the digital executor and tell him or her how to manage your online accounts and digital assets. It may also include suggestions on the distribution of accounts, assets, files, and information to family.

Note that Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and other companies have policies for when an account holder dies. These policies may permit an account holder to designate a "Legacy Contact" to manage the account; require specific documentation before a deceased person’s account can be closed, such as a copy of a death certificate; or automatically close an account after an extended period of inactivity, such as three months.

Digital estate planning is a new and dynamic field. We have taken steps to partner with a digital estate planning firm so you can be certain your executor, or your digital executor, will take the right steps to preserve and protect these accounts and that valuable and sentimental data can be passed on to family and loved ones.

Make no mistake, this is truly a digital age we live in!  Want proof? First, look at your smartphone and see how many online accounts you have that will have to be dealt with at your death, the number will surprise you! Then book a call with us and we can discuss how to protect not only your digital assets but your privacy as well!  If you or a loved one are concerned about issues with situations like this, and in estate planning and elder law concerns including Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and questions regarding long-term care and the nursing home, reach out to us!  Book a call with us on our website: www.VAElderLaw.com to get started. We have offices in BassettDanville and Lynchburg to serve you.

Reference: American Legion (Dec. 13, 2022) “Estate planning and online accounts”

Book an Initial Call
Speak With Someone
Schedule an available time to speak with us. We look forward to meeting with you!
Book an Initial Call
Client Success Stories
Google Reviews
Danville Virginia Office

742 Main Street,
Danville, Virginia 24541

Bassett Virginia Office

1460 Fairystone Park Hwy,
Bassett, Virginia 24055

Lynchburg Virginia Office

810 Main Street, (3rd Floor of the Truist Building)
Lynchburg, Virginia 24504

Integrity Marketing Solutions - Estate Planning Marketing
Powered by
magnifiercrosschevron-down