Reviewed by Jason Neufeld, Esq.
Did you know that in this new year of 2022, understanding how to protect your digital assets is a hot topic? It seems that data security is always in the headlines. In addition, digital privacy is on the mind of many Floridians, making this month a perfect time to ensure that our digital assets are secure now and in the future, including after we pass on.
When you created your Florida estate plan, did you know you could include your digital assets? You can. While creating or updating your estate plan you can secure your digital assets for the future. In the paragraphs below we have provided the following guidelines that may help you understand how to include digital assets in your estate plan while keeping them secure in the meantime.
As most everyone is aware, many digital assets are protected by a password. One of the most critical steps in addressing the security of your digital assets is protecting and preserving your passwords. Keeping track of all the different passwords you use to access different accounts on a frequent basis is difficult. Many people save their passwords on their computer or cell phone, unfortunately, this may not be the most secure practice. Best practices emphasize choosing strong passwords that could not easily be guessed, and to change them frequently, even if only once a year. Also, it is important to check your passwords to make sure that they have not been compromised. If they have, update them immediately! One suggestion for keeping track of your passwords is to make a written list and keep it in a locked desk drawer or safe deposit box. Remember, though, the list should be somewhere you can access them frequently, whenever you need to make updates.
Can your digital assets really become part of your estate plan? Yes. There are digital assets that are financial, like a digital Paypal, Venmo, or bitcoin account. There are also digital assets that are sentimental, like a collection of photographs or videos of your children and grandchildren. Most importantly, there needs to be someone who is able to access these assets after you pass away. With that in mind, you may want to consider picking a “password person” who can be trusted with this information and keep them informed of where you keep your password list so they can access it when the time comes. When you do create or update your will you may wish to detail who should have access to your digital assets or leave your personal representative instructions with respect to your passwords.
In addition, some online sites, like Facebook, allows you to appoint a “legacy contact” (click link for instructions on how to do so). Per Facebook:
“A legacy contact is someone you choose to look after your account if it’s memorialized. We strongly suggest setting a legacy contact so your account can be managed once it’s memorialized.”
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) is the pre-eminent organization of Florida elder law attorneys providing advocacy, education and action on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities. We encourage you to contact one of our attorneys in your area using our Find a Lawyer website for assistance with including your digital assets in your Florida estate plan.