One of the primary duties of a Palm Beach executor is gathering all of the decedent’s property. In most cases, he or she can look to the estate-planning documents for clues as to what property there is and where it may be located. However, if a plan fails to include the digital assets, then matters could get more complicated.
Most people have at least some small online presence, but they may not think it is important to account for that presence in estate planning documents. Many Palm Beach residents are tech savvy, but still consider only physical assets as those that need to be dealt with upon death. Believe it or not, even a Facebook or Twitter account will require some sort of disposition after death.
The primary concern is data privacy. Getting into a digital account after the owner’s death is not always easy. Many companies such as Facebook are beginning to provide a “work around” to this problem by allowing an account owner to designate someone to have access after death. Other accounts may require a court order. If an individual fails to take proactive measures in estate-planning documents, then it will be up to the executor to do a bit more research to locate these assets.
The fact of the matter is that digital assets need to be distributed and/or disposed of just as any other property in the estate. Palm Beach residents who are putting together their estate-planning documents may want to make an extra effort to account for their online lives as well. This could alleviate at least some of the stress placed on their executors when it comes to gathering and protecting all of a decedent’s assets in anticipation of the estate administration process.