The digital age has had a major impact on every aspect of our lives, including estate planning – which was created at a time when paper and physical property ruled. The laws created at that time could not take the world of digital storage into consideration.
The problem for estate planners is that these older laws do not necessarily adapt well to digital possessions. This has left access to digital accounts up to the companies, such as Facebook and Google, that provide the accounts. Many state legislators are busy rewriting estate laws to take this new digital age into account. WMTV reports that Wisconsin is the latest state to do so in "Bill looks to help protect digital assets after death."
The legislation in Wisconsin seeks to treat digital accounts as much like physical accounts as possible. If a particular digital account has settings that allow for a post-death beneficiary, then those settings are respected. If the account does not make that possible, access to digital accounts would be given to a person designated in a will or a next-of-kin.
Regardless whether your state has laws concerning access to digital accounts after death, be sure to identify your accounts and what would happen to them.
An estate planning attorney can guide you through your state laws as well as the world of paper and digital assets.
Reference: WMTV (Feb. 24, 2016) "Bill looks to help protect digital assets after death."