The following short fiction explores a situation that more Pennsylvania families will be facing as the online world expands. If you have questions, please speak to our certified elder law attorneys.
Jim, a high-school principal, died unexpectedly in March of this year. He was 65 years old. He left behind his wife, Jill, and their two sons, Mark and Michael. Jim’s was an untimely passing that left his surviving family mired in grief, shock, and a sense of bewilderment. All at once, the family had to make several important decisions. These are decisions that most people dread the thought of. Sometimes, people refuse to acknowledge the reality of these inevitable decisions, putting off what will ultimately have to be dealt with.
For years, Jim taught business administration, and perhaps it was in his nature to plan for the beneficiaries of his estate upon his passing. In that regard, his family was very fortunate. Jill, Mark, and Michael each received personal details and bequeathals, and were given instructions on how to proceed with Jim’s remains. Everything was accounted for, and this proved to be a huge relief to the grieving family. Except for one aspect of Jim’s life: he left no instructions for his extensive online presence. He had no digital estate plan.
A digital estate plan is a course of action to be taken upon one’s passing for things like email accounts, social media profiles, banking and investment accounts, online cloud storage for pictures or documents, any websites owned or managed by the deceased, digital currency, and rights to any copyrighted intellectual property. The digital estate plan also includes the all-important username and password combinations that can unlock each of these vaults of data.
While many digital belongings are purely of a personal nature, some have financial value. In either case, it’s easy to see why you would want to specify the management of your online accounts in the event of your passing. The digital estate plan that you establish should outline specifically who should be responsible for carrying out your arrangements.
Your loved ones may be negatively impacted if you neglect the details for the administration of these assets. The last thing your family and friends should have to deal with are more heartaches, frustrations, and complicated decisions while mourning your departure.
If you’re interested in learning more about establishing a digital estate plan, contact Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC. You can set up a consultation with a Columbia County estate planning attorney by calling (570) 784 5211 today.