Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

What Becomes of Digital Assets After Your Death?

We all probably need to update our wills. The nature of the valuable assets we own is changing. For those who have been immersed in the digital age, music, photos, books, and social media content, even electronic currency, accumulated during our lives, are important items; some having value and others having importance, for various reasons, to those we leave behind.

A significant portion of our digital content is now in the "cloud" and subject to user agreements with the providers of the storage services.  Access is available only to those with knowledge of user names and passwords. What are your wishes concerning access to these assets after your death? If we want items to be available for our beneficiaries, we need to provide the means. If we want content to be kept confidential from family and/or friends, we need to make that known as well.

Uncertainty of access for estate personal representatives led the Virginia legislature in 2015 to pass the Privacy Expectations Afterlife and Choices Act. However, the best way to control what happens to your digital assets after you die is to leave specific instructions. Leave a list of username and passwords, and explain what you want done with each account and its content. You can leave it in a letter to be found after you die, kept in a secure place, and with the location made known to your personal representative. Seek legal counsel to help you carry out your plan.

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