Estate Planning in the Digital Age

Web Admin - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

digital assets estate planningFrom bankbooks to Facebook, more and more activities, both business and pleasure, are being conducted over the internet every day. A study from McAfee reports that in 2011 the average American had almost $55,000 in digital assets. These assets can present unique challenges during the estate planning process. They need to be passed on or wound up just like physical assets, but each online service has its own rules on handling accounts after death.  

What Digital Assets Are

Digital assets can be many different things, and it is important to have a clear understanding of the different types since they can require very different treatment after death. Digital assets include:

  • - Files on your home computer like pictures, word documents, and spreadsheets;
  • - Digital books and music like iTunes and Kindle books;
  • - Social networking accounts like Facebook and Twitter;
  • - Online gaming accounts and valuable in-game assets;
  • - Websites or domain names you own; and
  • - eCommerce information like bank accounts, Paypal, and eBay.

Choosing how to handle each of these assets can require some careful thought because they will each likely need a different form of treatment. For instance, Paypal accounts can probably simply be closed out after withdrawing the funds, but some people would prefer to see their Facebook page memorialized rather than simply closed.

Handling Digital Assets

From a legal standpoint, handling digital assets may be a challenge because the problem is somewhat new. This means that the law has yet to catch up to the technology in many ways. Instead, much of the legal landscape is determined by the individual service itself based on the “Terms of Service” that they have each user agree to. However, there are still precautions that you can take in order to better empower your loved ones to carry out your wishes.

The first thing to do is to create a digital inventory. This is a list of all your digital assets, where to find them, and the usernames and passwords necessary to access them. This inventory should also include instructions to the executor of your estate detailing what you would like them to do with each of the assets.

Then you should make sure that your legal documents include provisions for the management of your digital assets. This means designating an executor to handle your digital estate. This can be the same person as the executor for the rest of your will, but it does not have to be. If the executor for most of your estate lacks computer skills it could be prudent to name someone else to deal with digital assets. While this executor may still have trouble carrying out all your wishes if the website’s Terms of Service will not allow it, arming them with a digital inventory and a legal document can certainly improve their chances.

If you would like to make an estate plan or if you want to update your plan to account for digital assets, contact an Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our skilled team assists clients across the northwest suburbs, including in Inverness, Kenilworth, and Riverwoods.

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


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