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


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