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


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