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Estates and digital assets in New Jersey

When designing an estate plan, a new issue is digital assets. This is a relatively new phenomenon, but digital assets will only increase in importance. As such, one must have a grasp of how digital assets affect trusts, wills and other estate planning tools.

First, one must take a digital asset inventory. The inventory should include electronic accounts, subscriptions, etc. And, the list should include the asset's web address and how to access it (i.e., usernames, passwords, security questions, etc.). Moreover, the inventory should include liabilities, like automatic payments. Failing to provide this information to heirs and executors will cause problems.

Next, as with any other asset or liability, decisions on how it should be dealt with must be noted. For example, a person might not want his or her email accounts open to certain people. It is possible to designate who can have access to it, if anyone. And, do not forget the social media accounts. Many providers now let digital heirs access these accounts on a limited basis.

Wills must clearly outline one's wishes. These instruments must state who will control these digital assets to avoid problems. But, certain assets cannot be transferred, and people frequently do not know how many digital assets they have and what will fall into this category.

People who do not take steps to deal with their estates in a comprehensive manner that includes digital assets will only complicate matters for their family after passing. It can cause substantial problems for their heirs and leave many assets and liabilities in limbo, potentially allowing the state to take them. Accordingly, discussing estate planning with a lawyer can help with these matters.

Source:, "Tips For Putting Your Digital Assets In Your Estate Plan," Bob Carlson, July 28, 2017

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