If I had to pick one thing that is a “hot topic” right now in the estate planning field is “digital assets.” Digital assets are anything involving the internet or mobile devices, including family photos on an iPad, e-mail accounts, and social media accounts.
Did you know that some social media and e-mail providers value and protect privacy so much that they will not allow a family member or executor of an estate to access the deceased person’s social media account or email account?
The law historically responds much slower than technology grows. Thirty years after the creation of the “world wide web,” states are starting to pass digital asset laws that treat digital assets like tangible personal property that can be passed on to others or, at the very least, settled and administered by an executor. North Carolina recently passed one such law.
However, it remains to be seen how well social media and email providers respond to the law. In the meantime, here is what you can do to ensure that you have control over what happens with your social medial and email accounts. I have picked Facebook and Gmail because they are the largest providers in their respective platforms. However, almost all social media and email providers have something similar as listed below.
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