PROTECTING YOUR DIGITAL ASSETS AND WHY IT MATTERS!
If you are like me, access to technology makes each day easier, more efficient and a lot more interesting than I could have imagined. And yes, I will admit there is a bit of dependency. I do depend on my computer and my smart phone… to keep up with news as soon as it happens; to Google the answers to all my questions; to shop, pay bills and bank online; to stay connected with family and with old and new friends, no matter where our travels take us. When I am able to see pictures of adventure and life posted on a Facebook wall, it gives me an immediate and happy sense of being part of another’s moment in real time. Paying bills online, internet shopping, and doing my banking at home at midnight gives me a sense of pure freedom. But there is another side to this use of technology that we have to talk about… Digital assets! Digital assets describe a wide variety of content contained in digital form in an online environment. Assets like photos, social dialogue, notices or videos posted to sites like Twitter, Linkedin, You Tube, Facebook, or email accounts, as well as the content of personal financial accounts, carry value whether it is sentimental or monetary.
A recent experience at our law firm drove home the need to be proactive in protecting digital assets. When a young spouse was in an accident recently, her spouse contacted my office. One of the most challenging issues was the fact that no one could take charge of her Facebook account or her credit card account. No one knew the passwords or the pin numbers and the systems in place made it impossible to reset! It was a nightmare for them during a very stressful time. At The Elder Law Office of David Wingate, we advise all our Estate and Long-Term Care Planning clients to appoint a Power of Attorney that is responsible for their digital assets.
Like any Power of Attorney, special thought needs to go into choosing the best person to be responsible for your online information. This person should be technology savvy and experienced in programs where you have an online presence. Furthermore, you need to outline your wishes in a detailed way. Maintaining a booklet separate from the computer or legal document that keeps track of accounts and passwords will make it easier to carry out your wishes. Digital asset protection has become an important part of the Estate and Long-Term Care Planning process. We understand the importance of protecting your digital assets, respect their value, and know why it matters.
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David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick, Washington and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.
Notice: this Blog is published as a free service of the Elder Law Office of David Wingate. The information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, please consult with one of our experienced attorneys. We encourage you to share this newsletter with anyone you think may be interested.