More and more people are using electronic devices to access, store, and even create important information - personal “assets” like photographs and videos; social media “assets” like Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts; and access to financial tools like banking, investments, e-Bay and Amazon.com.
Most of the electronic paths that we create, or tools that we use, are protected by user names, passwords, and personal identifiers (e.g., your father’s middle name). So what happens if I become disabled, or when I die? Who has the ability and authority to protect me from identity theft? Who can safeguard the “privacy” of personal information? The questions go on; unfortunately the answers don’t.
Different internet companies have different policies, and some have none. Efforts are beginning to draft a model, uniform law which would define the authority of guardians, agents under powers of attorney, and executors to deal with my “digital assets.” Some states (not including Ohio) have independently enacted or are considering legislation. We ourselves have added to our estate planning documents language to address ownership and access issues. No doubt that language will evolve over time.
Where to start? Make a comprehensive list. You can find good advice about how to assemble information on your “digital assets” in this article. And if you save your list on your computer, password-protect it. Of course, then you will need to record that password somewhere else - probably on paper.