Social media giant Google recently announced a new account tool that can help you include your e-mail and other electronic accounts in your existing estate plan. While the new tool is certainly helpful, only a consultation with your estate planning attorney will ensure that all of your digital assets are properly accounted for in your estate plan.
The new “Inactive Account Manager” tool lets account users decide what will happen to their accounts when the account has been inactive for three, six, nine or 12 months. You have the option to direct that the content held in the account be erased or to provide a “beneficiary” for the account who can access the account in your absence. You can use the tool with your Google e-mail or YouTube account as well as with Blogger, Drive, Google+ and Picasa accounts.
While the new Google tool is a step in the right direction for users of social media or other digital assets, it barely scratches the surface of what needs to be done to completely address your digital estate assets. In today’s electronic age, a typical person uses electronic media for everything from corresponding with business associates to distributing photos of a newborn member of the family. Although you may not think of all these various accounts as “assets,” they are in the legal sense of the word. As such, you need to update your current estate plan to include them and to ensure that they will be preserved or properly handled if something happens to you in the future.