Digital Assets Deserve a Place in Your Illinois Estate Plan
You may not think of yourself as having “digital assets,” but if you’re reading this post online, then you almost certainly do. Digital assets include all the information and media we store online, such as emails, documents, photos and videos, as well as our social media accounts and digital subscriptions or bill pay accounts. Have you ever wondered what will happen with this information after you pass? Unless your estate plan includes login information and instructions on what to do with these assets, your executor may not have the right to manage these assets on your behalf. Read on to learn about why and how to include your digital assets in your estate plan, and contact a knowledgeable Illinois estate planning lawyer for help in modernizing your will.
Digital assets are part of your Illinois estate
When you pass away, your digital assets and subscriptions will continue to exist and may require attention. For example, these digital accounts may be the way that you pay utility bills in the home that family members continue to occupy. Subscriptions could result in ongoing charges to credit cards and need to be cancelled. Additionally, family members may want to indicate on any social media accounts that you’ve passed away.
Before 2016, it would have been against the law for someone to use login information to access a deceased person’s digital assets. With the passage of the Digital Assets Act in August of 2016, executors and estate administrators in Illinois can now be granted the legal right to access the digital accounts and assets of the deceased person in the same way that they can access financial assets and other property the individual owned during their lifetime. That said, the right of a fiduciary to access digital assets is not automatic. The individual must explicitly grant consent in their will or estate plan for the executor to access this information, and they can even indicate limits on the degree of access this individual has to their digital assets.
In order for a fiduciary to have access to these assets, it is critical that you create a list of your online accounts and the login information you use for each. Make sure you include subscriptions such as Spotify or Netflix on this list, as well as bank account, utility, cloud storage, and credit card login information. You may want to consider using a password manager to create this list, such as Dashlane or Lastpass. Should you list this information in a single document, use password protection to ensure that the document is not visible to anyone with access to your computer. Be sure that your attorney or fiduciary has access to the password needed to view this information. Do not, however, include this password in your will, as your will becomes a public document during probate.
If you need skilled and professional legal help creating or revising an Illinois estate plan, contact the Chicagoland offices of Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee in Hoffman Estates at 847-310-0025 or in Des Plaines at 847-298-5030.