What is a Digital Executor?
A Digital Executor is a person responsible for accessing and managing your digital assets after your death.
What is a Digital Asset?
A digital asset can be a wide variety of electronic records and files that may be stored online, on mobile devices, or on personal computers.
- Social media accounts—Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
- Email or other online communication—Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.
- Photos or videos—iCloud, Flickr, etc
- Airline loyalty points—AA, Southwest, etc.
- Digital music or artwork
May not include:
- Underlying financial assets. For example, electronic bank account statements may be a Digital Asset, but the funds held in the bank account are not considered a Digital Asset.
- Ownership of Cryptocurrency. The account access (i.e. Coinbase) may be considered a Digital Asset, but the asset itself (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc) most likely will be considered part of the personal property in the estate.
How are my Digital Assets accessed?
Many digital assets are accessed through “Custodians,” which would include email providers and social media services. A Digital Executor may request access to the digital assets held by Custodians and a Digital Executor may have the power to manage, distribute, or terminate those digital assets consistent with the terms of your Will.
How do I elect a Digital Executor?
While putting together your will with Trust & Will, you will be asked to nominate a Digital Executor and backups.
Is it important to have a Digital Executor?
Yes. Naming a Digital Executor provides another layer of planning to help ensure that your Digital Assets can be passed on in accordance with your wishes.
Do the laws vary by state?
While most states have passed laws recognizing the powers and authorities of Digital Executors, these laws are relatively new developments and some uncertainties remain. Some states also provide that an Executor of a Will or a Trustee of a trust may be authorized and empowered to access and manage digital assets. Some states provide that you may use an online tool provided by a Custodian to direct the Custodian to disclose your digital assets to the individuals you specify. The use of such an online tool may trump the designation of a Digital Executor.
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