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Six Steps to Immediately Take to Protect Digital Assets After Death

It used to be enough for a trust or estate administrator to identify assets simply to search through a decedent’s papers in his or her workplace and at home, watch the mailbox for a 90-day cycle, and review tax returns and account statements.

In today’s digital word, there are six additional steps the administrator must take to identify and protect the decedent’s digital assets:

  1. Make an immediate inventory of all possible digital property.
  2. Get physical and virtual access to and control over the decedent’s digital equipment, including the smart phone, computer, laptop, tablet, etc.
  3. Give timely notice to third party email providers to preserve the information there, and move quickly, because the provider will delete the decedent’s account and its contents within a few months following notice of his or her death.
  4. Make an inventory of all purchasing accounts, such as Amazon or eBay, and secure or shut them down so no further purchases can be made.
  5. Get control of online accounts. Access or control web pages, blogs, social networking accounts, etc. Doing this is critical to preventing identity theft, as well as preserving and transferring sentimental information for the family.
  6. Determine value, if any, of digital property, to include in the decedent’s asset inventory, including the following:
  • Intellectual property;
  • Advertising revenue stream from web pages and/or blogs;
  • Domain names;
  • Virtual currency;
  • Virtual real estate;
  • Unused credit card or travel points;
  • Refunds from online purchasing accounts; and
  • Contents of emails and social networking accounts of certain public figures.

By taking these immediate steps, the administrator can ensure that the digital assets have been frozen and protected, not only for inventory purposes, but also to eliminate fraud and misuse of the digital assets by others.

For more information, contact:

Roy Johnston
[email protected]
(707) 545-6542