Managing Digital Estates

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Gray Easterling
Gray Easterling

The information in this article is gleaned from an August 20, 2015 online Financial Planning commentary. It deals with some of the areas of concern that have to be dealt with when the deceased used social media like Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and related sites. Some of the questions are: Do family members have the right to access their loved one’s account after a death? Would the deceased want family members to have access to their content? Who is in charge when dealing with digital property? What is included in the term “digital estate”? My intent with this article is to raise awareness of some of the problems that could be encountered.

 

A digital estate is more than social media; it includes all digital assets of the deceased, including e-mail accounts, websites for online banking, retail accounts like PayPal and photo sharing accounts. These sites may contain sensitive personal information and financial data that may create privacy concerns if left unattended. In the discussion with your family member(s), it will be important to determine what social media platforms are used, passwords, and how the accounts are to be handled after death. Share the stated goals with the estate attorney or the designated digital executor. Use and leverage technology to find client portals that can house important client documents. Be prepared to provide legal documentation that meets the various social media requirements to begin the closure process. According to this article, “Mashable” generates a helpful infographic that may summarize these requirements. With these preliminary tools, you should be able to begin deleting digital assets from the various networking sites. However, if you are like me, you are going to have to get help from a younger generation to accomplish these goals and eliminate access to online info of the deceased. Left unattended, unintended consequences could develop. Start the discussion and follow through with whatever help you may need. My parents were not in the digital world, so there was no problem, but I think each generation from now on is going to more and more affected. Plan ahead and start a discussion sooner rather than later.

 

Have you ever had a dream that was not complete when the alarm went off and you lay back down hoping to come to a conclusion? That happened to me this morning and really threw my morning schedule out of whack and I didn’t even get to the end. I wonder if that will be the feeling when we approach the end of life—knowing we are moving on and yet concerned that we didn’t finish the job? But take heart! From 2 Corinthians: “Therefore, do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is just for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

Although this information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, it cannot be guaranteed.  This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized tax, legal or investment advice.  FSC Securities Corporation does not offer tax or legal advice.  The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of FSC Securities Corporation.  Financial Solutions Group is a marketing name.  Financial Solutions Group is located at 128 Versailles Blvd, Alexandria, LA  71301.  We can be reached at (318)448-3201. Securities, insurance and advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.