Digital Assets and Estate Planning – Why Your Will May Not Be Enough

Web Admin - Friday, October 21, 2016
Long Grove estate planning lawyersIf you are like most people, you probably have a slew of digital content, and it may be held in several different online accounts. You might have music on iTunes, books or movies on Amazon, photos on Facebook or Instagram, private and business emails, and even an app that tracks your frequent flier miles. Having this content is not necessarily problematic, but troubles can arise if you pass away before assigning a digital fiduciary. What is a digital fiduciary, and why do you need one? The following information explains. 

What is a Digital Fiduciary? 

A digital fiduciary is essentially a person who has been given legal access to your online account. They can take actions that are in accordance with your wishes, such as deleting an account that you no longer need, closing out a digital subscription, transferring content to preserve photos or music, or using frequent flier miles and digital gift cards for themselves. Of course, this only happens if you assign one using the proper legal channels. Fail to do so and your content could be lost forever. 

Why Your Will is Not Enough 

In 1986, Congress enacted the Stored Communications Act (SCA). Designed to protect the online content and privacy of American citizens, and a part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, it was essentially a digital extension of the Fourth Amendment. Unfortunately, Congress had not anticipated how problematic the SCA would eventually become for fiduciaries. 

You see, the SCA prohibits digital account custodians, like Facebook and Google, from disclosing personal information about their users. These custodians protect themselves through user agreements, which you probably agreed to when you opened the account. Of course, few people actually read these long and confusing agreements, so they rarely understand what is at risk. Think you can solve this problem with a simple will? Think again. 

Cases across the country indicate that a will may or may not be helpful when trying to gain access to a digital account. In fact, even after an executor has met all the demands of a custodian, such as supplying a copy of a death certificate and a copy of the will, they may still only gain partial access to your account. One family did not even receive that. Instead, they were given a CD with their son’s public photos, which left them with no way to gain access to anything that remained private. 

Assigning a Digital Fiduciary 

Illinois recently took steps to help estate executors gain access to online accounts that they might have otherwise been unable to reach. However, there are still many issues that can arise if you do not specifically designate a digital fiduciary. You can now do this using an online tool that keeps all your account information in one easy-to-access place. As expressed in the next section, this tool can also help you minimize the risk of certain breaches of your privacy. 

How Much Power Does a Digital Fiduciary Have? 

It can be troubling to think about your spouse finding photos of an ex-girlfriend that you just could not bring yourself to get rid of, or your children reading an unpublished blog entry about a personal and sensitive matter. There could be emails that you do not want your family to access, or content that you do not want them to read. Just how likely is it that they will gain access to this information? 

Though a digital fiduciary can override the privacy clauses in user agreements to provide access, all that they do is supposed to be in your best interest, and in accordance with your wishes. You can instruct them by clearly defining it in both your will, and your online tool. Further, you can leave off user names and passwords for accounts that you do not want your fiduciary to access. If all else fails, plan ahead and transfer any sensitive content to a place that will not be accessed by your fiduciary. 

Contact Our Long Grove Estate Planning Attorneys 

If you want to ensure that your digital content is protected but still want to preserve your privacy and your family’s well-being, Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help. Dedicated and experienced, we offer comprehensive services to fit your family’s needs. Call 847-934-6000 and schedule your consultation with our Long Grove estate planning lawyers today.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Recent Posts


Schaumburg criminal attorney senior citizens Mount Prospect wills and trusts lawyers Arlington Heights traffic attorney healthcare Crystal Lake pet attorney CAM Barrington civil litigation attorney digital assets, digital fiduciary, estate planning, digital content, Long Grove estate planning lawyers comp time Illinois traffic laws Chicago employment attorney Barrington workers compensation attorney Illinois trusts attorney Long Grove estate planning preventing accidents comparative negligence Illinois driving without license Arlington Heights insurance attorney insurance negligence Crystal Lake medical malpractice law firm Illinois insurance dispute lawyers Schaumburg civil litigation attorney insurance dispute attorney real estate attorneys Illinois elder law attorney BAIID construction accidents, personal injury, wrongful death, Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys, workers' compensation real estate Buffalo Grove criminal defense lawyer Crystal Lake law firm Legal Info Fourth of July Illinois personal injury lawyer estate tax Barrington real estate lawyer real estate leasing estate plan Palatine employment lawyer insurance claims Deer Park real estate law firm Rolling Meadows employment law attorneys vacation home fines Crystal Lake will lawyer Des Plaines injury law firm life insurance lawyer fatal car accidents DGAA Rolling Meadows real estate attorney cell phone accidents operating agreements civil rights violation trucking accidents most common reasons for life insurance claim denials Illinois employment law attorneys employment law, meal breaks, rest breaks, hotel employees, Des Plaines employment law attorneys Crystal Lake medical malpractice lawyer distracted driving accidents manufacturing digital assets liability Chicago employment lawyer Schaumburg elder law lawyer insurance dispute, insurance dispute lawyers, insurance claim denial, insurance claim delays, Rolling Meadows insurance dispute attorneys Family Medical Leave Act Schaumburg employment attorney Rolling Meadows insurance lawyer Kenilworth estate planning attorneys employee rights Home Sale Contingencies deadly crashes mortgage holiday statistics right to work dram shop law Arlington Heights estate planning attorney auto accidents Inverness corporate attorney real estate zoning business litigation hands free device field sobriety test employee misclassification insurance claim dispute brain injury Illinois Transfer on Death Instrument Crystal Lake injury attorney Buffalo Grove employment lawyer traffic violations criminal defense Palatine real estate lawyer hiring employees commercial leases independent contractor Chicago biking tips Schaumburg Rolling Meadows employment law attorney Inverness traffic law firm defective products Arlington Heights car crash attorneys Long Grove real estate lawyer bad faith insurance claims swimming pools Schaumburg traffic lawyer Schaumburg wrongful death attorney Palatine life insurance lawyer Des Plaines personal injury attorney Des Plaines personal injury lawyer liens Affordable Care Act Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act slip and fall probate reckless homicide Des Plaines Traffic Lawyer School Visitation Rights Act employment lawyer Crystal Lake employment lawyer Chicago lawyer Buffalo Grove medical malpractice lawyers IRS Palatine employment attorney breathalyzer test Chicago estate planning lawyer Illinois insurance disputes construction accidents bicycle accidents estate attorney Crystal lake insurance dispute attorney real estate contract Illinois workplace discrimination attorney Illinois DUI attorney breach of contract Illinois Trust Code Crystal Lake pedestrian accident lawyer Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorneys overtime pay investment property insurance claim DUI employees Illinois employment law IRELA Chicago trucking accident attorney Crystal Lake insurance lawyer homestead rights dealing with problem employees Long Grove estate planning attorney living wills license suspension Buffalo Grove probate lawyer loss of consortium federal regulations for LLCs Illinois workers compensation lawyer advance healthcare directive Illinois traffic attorney small business Illinois collections attorney paid sick leave civil litigation attorney jet ski accidents life insurance claims driving Arlington Heights employment law attorneys insurance claim dispute attorney Des Plaines drug crimes lawyer DMV landlord tenant law Chicago will attorney, social media platforms, Illinois estate planning lawyer, texting and driving products liability Forcible Entry consent to a search life insurance claim denial, denial of life insurance claim traffic tickets lapse in policy federal crimes IRA trust transfer life insurance policy sole proprietorship probate lawyer estate planning, death tax, succession plans, business estate plans, Barrington estate planning lawyers Illinois construction accident attorney Inverness real estate attorney in terrorem provision bike accident product liability medical malpractice claims Schaumburg employment law attorneys blended families Schaumburg personal injury lawyer Rolling Meadows marijuana attorney Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission pedestrian accident Rolling Meadows traffic attorney agent mass shooting Palatine personal injury lawyer Rolling Meadows personal injury attorney truck collisions Inverness estate planning lawyer health insurance dispute medical malpractice, missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medical mistake, Deer Creek medical malpractice lawyers attorney fees new real estate form Exclusions Palatine civil litigation lawyer car accident lawyer DUI defense Chicago insurance law firm spinal cord injuries Illinois injury lawyer changes to mortgage law clemency living trust insurance claim denials Riverwoods estate planning lawyer Schaumburg car accident attorney Do Not Resuscitate car accident suspended license murder defense workers comp Schaumburg medical malpractice lawyer Schaumburg estate planning lawyer Palatine criminal defense lawyer commercial leasing Illinois mortgages first degree murder Illinois insurance attorney Kenilworth estate planning lawyer rest breaks probate claims process Des Plaines insurance attorney llinois Real Estate Lawyers Association estate planning for college students minimum wage Illinois employment laws gift tax exemption, estate planning, estate planning strategies, Illinois estate planning, South Barrington estate planning attorneys Mount Prospect elder law attorney eluding a police officer Crystal Lake tax lawyer drug possession taxes Illinois living will Chicago corporate attorney Rolling Meadows employment attorney Arlington Heights tax lawyer workers compensation benefits Crystal Lake business law attorneys residential real estate Deer Park employment law attorney motorcycle accident lawyer capital gains tax drugs rumble strips car crashes Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyer Deer Park motorcycle accident lawyer unfunded trust traumatic brain injuries Illinois registered agent employment attorney sexual harassment car accidents elder abuse compensatory time foreclosure insurance denial appeals Des Plaines motorcycle accident attorney Illinois Sales Representative Act Deer Park medical malpractice attorney Super Mario Palatine construction attorney employee discrimination Chicago insurance claim attorneys personal injury claims accidental death benefits underage DUI Crystal Lake employment attorney surgical mistakes blood alcohol content Schaumburg probate attorney college kids Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers, insurance dispute foreclosed rental property FMLA no contest clauses car accident lawyers pedestrian accidents Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Rolling Meadows tax attorney Palatine Attorney defective products lawyer commercial real estate employment contract Buffalo Grove personal injury lawyer Schaumburg injury lawyer Retaliatory Discharge Buffalo Grove corporate attorney Barrington medical malpractice lawyers Palatine punch death Inverness probate lawyer automated cars Crystal Lake medical malpractice attorneys traumatic brain injury Illinois real estate Barrington criminal defense lawyer Schaumburg construction accident lawyer drug crimes personal injury law firm Rolling Meadows accident lawyer denied insurance claims medical malpractice compensation work unions living trust vs will insurance disputes, Illinois insurance disputes, Illinois insurance dispute attorneys, denied insurance claims, Arlington Heights insurance dispute attorneys subcontractor Schaumburg estate attorney Illinois insurance lawyer traffic crimes Chicago will attorney Barrington employment law attorney South Barrington real estate lawyer ken apicella natural gas explosion Inverness injury lawyer Illinois employee rights attorney. Buffalo Grove law firm denied insurance claim wills and trusts institutional trustee Buffalo Grove traffic attorney Crystal Lake estate planning lawyer gift taxes Crystal Lake civil litigation lawyer Illinois workplace lawyer fiduciary rule delay pain and suffering boating accidents Deer Park DUI lawyer insurance dispute trustee Crystal Lake car accident attorney Deer Park traffic accident attorney underfunded trust beneficiary complications Schaumburg personal injury lawyers filing a medical malpractice claim Illinois Human Rights Act Palatine workers compensation lawyer Rolling Meadows corporate lawyer preventable medical errors rollover car crashes Illinois motorcycle accident lawyer marijuana Illinois wrongful termination lawyer nursing home negligence healthcare claims controlled substance Inverness civil lawyer premises liability landlord Illinois employment law attorney drunk driving statistics Chicago life insurance attorney income distribution deducation life insurance BAC hit and run accident pedestrian-automobile accident liability claims Rolling Meadows Attorney Ken Apicella Rolling Meadows business lawyer traffic violations defense Illinois home inspection Des Plaines personal injury lawyers Crystal Lake bike accident lawyer installment contracts Illinois employment attorneys condo association Arlington Heights car accident lawyer Illinois wills and trusts Rolling Meadows life insurance claim denial attorney unpaid overtime Illinois small business Illinois corporate lawyer drunk driving Des Plaines real estate attorney Palatine traffic accidents privacy laws Arlington Heights Attorney POA FSLA Barrington litigation attorney Barrington employment attorney contracts Illinois business law atorneys Employment Discrimination Law Deer Park personal injury lawyer Des Plaines tax law firm Arlington Heights criminal lawyer power of attorney Crystal Lake personal injury lawyer Illinois business lawyer Illinois Smoke Detector Act Crystal Lake accident attorney Buffalo Grove car accident lawyer Illinois insurance claim attorney probate claims top life insurance claim denials Arlington Heights accident attorney wrongful termination jet ski Crystal Lake personal injury attorney Schaumburg drug defense lawyer dynasty trusts Des Plaines medical malpractice attorney Palatine employment law lawyer Illinois civil litigation lawyer Liquor Control Act Rolling Meadows insurance attorney Illinois boating accident lawyer coronavirus back injuries Class A misdemeanor Des Plaines civil attorney unauthorized overtime Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act Rolling Meadows drug defense attorney icy parking lots estate planning attorney PTSD estate planning, digital assets, Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Illinois digital assets, Illinois estate planning, Policy Cancellation Joliet general practice lawyers material misrepresentation Palatine trusts lawyer Des Plaines DUI attorney estate planning Illinois will lawyer guardianship attorney Barrington employment law firm Illinois tax attorney personal injury attorney caretaker rights Illinois traffic accident lawyer murder Illinois employment law firm car crash injuries insufficient documentation speeding Rolling Meadows estate planning attorney marijuana crimes attorney Chicago estate planning Barrington estate planning attorney irrevocable trust Barrington drug crime attorney low-ball insurance settlement Illinois real estate lawyer rollover accidents Illinois traffic ticket lawyer workplace sexual harassment Whistleblower Claims living trust benefits estate planning lawyer Schaumburg personal injury attorney special needs trust cell phone DNR Arlington Heights Traffic Lawyer personal injury, auto accident injuries, delayed injuries, serious injuries, Des Plaines personal injury attorneys civil litigation Illinois traffic attorneys Palatine corporate law attorneys Barrington estate planning lawyer digital evidence Illinois insurance claims lawyers cause-of-death exclusions Des Plaines criminal attorney Palatine business attorney insurance disputes Crystal Lake employment law attorney IRA benefits underinsured motorist Illinois Des Plaines real estate lawyer Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyers whistleblower protections crossover accidents Inverness elder law lawyer construction contracts BUI modern family estate planning Illinois medical malpractice attorney overtime violations medical marijuana traffic deaths natural gas Chicago traffic lawyer Illinois personal injury murder charges Arlington Heights TBI attorney Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney Palatine probate lawyer Fair Labor Standards Act Illinois medical malpractice claim sexual images distracted driving accident victims insurance claim delay criminal estate planning trusts Illinois workers compensation attorney TBI Crystal Lake traffic attorney Illinois defective products attorney personal injury accidents probate process real estate lawyer Schaumburg real estate lawyer Palatine drug lawyer Palatine corporate attorney problem employees Palatine insurance lawyer medication errors Illinois estate planning pizza emoji child safety Chicago attorney personal injury Deer Park workers compensation lawyer startup company wrongful death Illinois probate lawyer rent to own real estate contracts medical malpractice Des Plaines collections attorney Barrington personal injury lawyer employment law, Illinois employment laws Crystal Lake car accident lawyer personal injury claim Illinois estate planning attorney Des Plaines claims law firm Jay Andrew Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyer DUI attorney real estate attorney Rolling Meadows Attorney Arlington Heights injury attorney slip and fall accidents involuntary manslaughter corporate law anesthesia errors ObamaCare Illinois pedestrian accident attorney wage theft Palatine estate planning lawyer privacy digital media accounts, estate planning, Arlington Heights estate planning attorney, Illinois estate planning law firm revenge porn pay when paid contract Illinois medical malpractice case fiduciary rule boating under the influence criminal law Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorney texting while driving Illinois LLC creation Illinois wills and trusts attorneys Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyers Illinois red light cameras spinal cord injury Buffalo Grove real estate attorney appealing an insurance claim owner responsibility Illinois Probate Act of 1975 Arlington Heights medical malpractice lawyer insurance adjusters trench injuries Illinois lawyer Arlington Heights employment attorney pregnant women Buffalo Grove traffic lawyers Long Grove estate planning attorneys condo Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyer forming a corporation in Illinois Inverness insurance attorney Palatine elder law attorney denial of insurance claim loopholes Buffalo Grove injury lawyer Illinois speeding lawyer medical research Schaumburg estate planning attorney real estate closing uninsured motorist Deer Park accident attorney Kenilworth estate planning attorney traffic laws Arlington Heights pedestrian accidents traffic accidents Arlington Heights personal injury lawyer pedestrian injuries, pedestrian fatality pet bites license Palatine injury attorney Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act Illinois attorney insurance attorney financial advisors Buffalo Grove life insurance attorney Rolling Meadows DUI lawyer boating DUI traffic offenses trust payments Schaumburg insurance lawyers fault based insurance Buffalo Grove personal injury attorney Chicago car accident lawyer probate fees Rolling Meadows traffic law firm drug crimes lawyer Rolling Meadows boating crash lawyer elder law Barrington personal injury attorney DUI penalities head on collisions Illinois law vacation home Barrington attorney Long Grove real estate attorney Illinois pet lawyer food poisoning social media after death Illinois personal injury lawyers Self-Directed IRA Accounts Inverness DUI lawyer Barrington boating accident attorney Inverness real estate lawyer Barrington criminal lawyer Transfer on Death Instrument Rolling Meadows litigation lawyer trucking accident lawyers Illinois criminal defense attorney golf accidents Mount Prospect real estate lawyer how to avoid common denials of life insurance claims Schaumburg criminal law attorney Illinois rollover accident lawyers dog bites Rolling Meadows medical malpractice lawyers Rolling Meadows Traffic Lawyer Illinois job attorney criminal record home inspection lawyer motorcycle accident Illinois jet ski accident lawyer Barrington Traffic Lawyer Des Plaines drug lawyer disability benefits personal injury lawyer Arlington Heights real estate lawyer employment law LLCs GM ignition switches tax attorney Rolling Meadows criminal lawyer drug crime Colin H. Gilbert deed transfer Palatine law firm Arlington Heights trucking lawyer Palatine traffic lawyer insurance claim denial workers compensation Schaumburg Attorney Barrington Illinois estate planning lawyer Crystal Lake traffic lawyer Home Remodeling Repair Act Des Plaines pet law attorney Illinois employment lawyer Des Plaines accident attorney Schaumburg corporate attorney Rolling Meadows probate lawyer Illinois trucking safety digital information Barrington business law firm Colin Gilbert expungement insurance agents Barrington life insurance lawyer cell phone tower data Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyers bicycle dooring accidents car collision Barrington injury attorney Buffalo Grove insurance claim dispute lawyers Rolling Meadows car accident lawyers creditors Detainer Actions Thanksgiving Arlington Heights lawyer Rolling Meadows criminal attorney pet law Landlord Tenant Ordinance car crash Illinois bicycle safety Illinois medical malpractice lawyers denial of life insurance insurance denials trauma after an accident Schaumburg life insurance attorney insurance agent negligence Des Plaines employment contract, employment law, employment at-will, Deer Park employment law attorneys, contract, Illinois car accident attorney wrongful termination, employment law, whistleblower protections, Illinois employment laws, discrimination in the workplace Deer Park traffic lawyer Inverness personal injury attorney wills Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers Deer Park criminal attorney license reinstatement caregiver ACA South Barrington real estate attorney job lawyers Palatine civil attorney Inverness accident lawyer meal breaks internet Mt Prospect Attorney power of attorney for healthcare unpaid assessment Long Grove wills and trusts attorneys Illinois personal injury attorney trusts severance agreements license revocation