In case you are not familiar with the term “digital estate,” don’t be alarmed. Although the concept of digital or electronic property is not new, the idea that the average person has enough digital property to warrant including it in an estate plan is relatively new. As the world becomes more and more digital, so does the average person’s life.
Just a decade ago, the digital universe was still relatively small. Today, however, everything from your address book to your cherished family photos is probably stored electronically or in digital format. For the younger generation, anything and everything of importance is stored on some sort of small electronic device, or stored in the clouds. All of these files, documents and information are just as much a part of your estate as the paperwork you still keep in a filing cabinet–assuming you still have one.
What would happen if you died tomorrow? Would anyone know where all your digital property is? Would they know how to access it? Would they have the legal right to access it? Unless you make a point of including your digital estate in your estate plan, it could all be lost or inaccessible. State laws are just starting to catch up with technology by creating guidelines for the inclusion of digital property in your estate. Take the time to discuss your options with your estate planning attorney to make sure that your digital estate is addressed in your estate plan.