What Happens To Your Digital Assets When You Die?

June 8, 2022
Alec Borenstein

There are several things to consider when it comes to putting together an estate plan. Most people tend to rightfully focus first on accounting for assets such as bank accounts and real estate and naming beneficiaries for those assets. However, what about your digital assets such as your e-mail, social media accounts or even cryptocurrency? Here are some important details that our estate planning attorneys in New Jersey recommend keeping in mind when it comes to planning for these digital assets when you pass away:

Without question, Facebook is one of the most used forms of social media by countless people all over the world. Facebook is an example of a social media platform that tries to provide you with certain tools that you can use to prepare your account for when you pass away. For example, Facebook offers a feature called “Legacy Contact”. This is a person that you can designate to access certain features of your account after your death. This contact will be able to memorialize your account which means that your account remains active in certain ways so that your friends and loved ones can post meaningful tributes to you. If you don’t designate a legacy contact, your family can request that Facebook delete the account provided that your family provides a copy of a death certificate.  

You may be surprised to learn that there are many features associated with having a Google account other than just e-mail. From Google docs to Google spreadsheets and even a YouTube account, checking the different features of a Google account is something that a person typically does several times a day. As such, there are different options that you have when incorporating this digital asset into your estate plan. For example, you can designate a person (or a group of people) to be able to access your Google accounts if there is a certain period of inactivity. This access provides that designated person with all of the same access to your Google accounts that you would have had during your lifetime. If you do not capitalize on this feature, your family will need to notify Google of your passing for the account to be closed. Also, they will not be able to able to access your account before it’s deleted.

Cryptocurrency can present certain challenges when it comes to estate planning. For example, a cryptocurrency owner will be assigned a wallet which has a public address but a private key. The owners name and social security number are not associated with this asset which can make it challenging to transfer after death. Further, cryptocurrency is typically stored on a thumb drive or a hard drive. There isn’t a formal certificate or account statement that you get during the purchase. If a potential heir is unaware of the fact that you own cryptocurrency, they would have no reason to look for this information when going through your belongs which makes it all the more important that you provide the details of this asset in your estate plan.

At Borenstein, McConnell and Calpin, our estate planning attorneys will help you to ensure that all of your digital assets are accounted for in your estate plan so that your family is not left scrambling to try to access these assets after you pass away. Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation.


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Borenstein, McConnell & Calpin, P.C. is a Wills & Estate Planning law firm serving Central and Northern New Jersey, as well as New York City. We strive not only to give you a great client experience, but to become your trusted adviser for life. To reach Alec, please send an email to alec@bmcestateplanning.com.

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