Many Florida residents likely have at least one type of online account. Whether a social media profile, photo sharing website or automatic online bill pay website; increasingly much of an individual’s life and transactional activity takes place in the online realm via the Internet. In fact, a recent study conducted by McAfee estimates the average value of online assets per individual to be more than $37,000.
Despite the prevalence of online profiles and assets, many individuals fail to take measures to effectively plan for the management of such profiles and assets after their death. Failure to do so, however, can spur legal battles and lead to financial problems.
Disputes over access to and control over digital profiles and information can be largely avoided by appointing a digital executor. Much like an estate executor, a digital executor is an individual who is designated to act on the behalf of another with regard to the management and control of digital assets.
In recent years, legal disputes have erupted over access to social media profiles in the wake of a loved one’s death. Taking such legal action is not only financially taxing, but also emotionally taxing and only serves to intensify the feelings of loss and anger often experienced in the wake of a loved one’s death.
To avoid conflicts over digital assets, individual would be wise to name a digital executor. This individual could be a trusted family member, friend or even an estate planning attorney. A named digital executor would have access to all digital accounts and carry out an individual’s wishes with regard to the management of such accounts upon that individual’s death.
Source: Pasadena Star News, “People need to have a ‘digital executor’ when they plan their estate, expert says,” Zen Vuong, July 15, 2013