It was not that long ago when the Internet was new and primarily seen as nothing more than a source of entertainment for most people. That has changed dramatically.
More and more people are now conducting business online and our digital accounts have become a large part of our personal lives. This has become a problem in estate planning because most people manage their finances online and after death their heirs cannot access these digital files, which are password protected. A generation ago, heirs could discover financial information relatively easily through paper statements.
Laws have also not kept pace, as Investment News discusses in "Most estate plans aren't dealing with digital assets properly."
By default, what happens to digital accounts and assets after we pass away is a patchwork of the individual terms of services of the different websites that we use.
Every website has different rules about the accounts and whether they can be passed to heirs and under what circumstances they can be passed down. And whether passswords and accounts can be accessed.
Some states have attempted to address this problem by adopting proposed uniform laws, but there is a long way to go for the law to catch up with technology. Maryland and DC have passed new laws.
If you would like to make sure your heirs can access your digital financial information or have a say in what happens to your digital accounts after you pass away, it is important that you speak with an estate planning attorney about it, so you can make appropriate plans.
Reference: Investment News (May 11, 2017) "Most estate plans aren't dealing with digital assets properly."