Is your Estate Plan up to Date with Technology?

By Peter J. Gilbert, Esq.

One of the biggest complications in estate planning is that the law is forever catching up to technology. Obviously, for privacy concerns, access to the content of communications such as emails, text messages and social media accounts must be specifically given to an Executor or Power of Attorney Agent. These specific instructions should be placed in your will, trust, power of attorney or similar document. Does your Power of Attorney or Will or Trust mention access to digital access or on-line accounts?

There may come a time when someone needs lawful access to your online accounts and the current default (similar to laws of “intestacy,” when someone dies without an estate plan) is to follow a companies’ terms of services agreements. Some companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have developed policies to deal with the accounts of deceased users, but many are still unaware of these policies. Did you know that Facebook has a digital executor that can be named to your account in the event of your death?

There’s also the risk that an account statement is delivered solely via email. It’s an increasingly popular option for many of our clients, but without access to that email account, an Executor or Power of Attorney Agent may never discover its existence or be able to access the information once it’s discovered! For other online accounts such as credit cards, online-only banking or even PayPal accounts, there is a risk that a hacker might obtain access, draining accounts or racking up credit card debt that the estate may be liable to pay. And if no one has the right to lawfully access and review these accounts, that risk is certainly there.

Laws regarding digital assets are changing almost daily, so this aspect of estate law will certainly continue to evolve. At HighPoint Law Offices in Chalfont, we continue to monitor these changes in the law so we can best serve our clients and keep their estate plans fresh and up to date with the changing technology.

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At HighPoint Law Offices we support individuals, families, and businesses of all backgrounds with estate planning services that address their unique wishes, goals, and challenges.

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