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Protecting Your Digital Assets Through Power of Attorney

Posted on in Estate Planning

Milwaukee estate planning lawyers, digital assets, power of attorney, social media accounts, digital documentsProper estate planning allows someone to protect his or her assets, pass the assets on to his or her heirs, and ensure that the individual’s wishes are carried out correctly after his or her death. However, in today’s society, this process has become more complicated—the assets people own often extend beyond physical property and financial resources. During the estate planning process, it is important to consider digital assets and understand how they can be protected through power of attorney.

What Are Digital Assets?

Digital assets include any information that is stored electronically. These assets can include:

  • Email and social media accounts;
  • Photos, videos, documents, or files stored in an online service or on a personal computer, tablet, or smartphone;
  • Website domain names;
  • Content uploaded to or published on a website or blog;
  • Digital currencies such as Bitcoin;
  • Text messages;
  • Digital music;
  • Access to financial accounts or online stores;
  • Rights associated with online games; and
  • Intellectual property rights.

 Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets 

The Wisconsin Digital Property Act allows someone to give his or her representative (known as a fiduciary) access to his or her digital assets. A fiduciary may request the disclosure of digital assets from the person or service controlling those assets (known as the custodian). The custodian may disclose assets by providing a copy of electronic communication or other digital documents or files to the fiduciary or by giving him or her full or partial access to a user’s account. 

Power of Attorney for Digital Assets 

When making plans for your estate, it is important to consider the digital assets you own and ensure that their control will be passed on to someone you trust in the event of your death or incapacitation. Maintaining a complete inventory of your assets, including online accounts, user names, passwords, and any required security questions will ensure that everything is accounted for when the time comes for your fiduciary to access them.

You can name a fiduciary to manage your digital assets through a power of attorney document that specifies how your assets will be controlled if you die or become incapacitated. This document should detail which assets the fiduciary will be able to access and control and what decisions he or she can make about these assets. By doing so, you can protect these assets and keep them from being lost or made inaccessible if you are no longer able to access them.

Contact a Milwaukee Estate Planning Attorney

If you want to make sure your digital assets are protected, the attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help you draft a power of attorney document that will allow someone you trust to control these assets if you are unable to do so. Contact our Milwaukee, WI estate planning lawyers today at 414-271-1440 to learn more.

Sources:

http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/related/proposals/ab695

https://www.americanbar.org/publications/probate_property_magazine_2012/2015/september_october_2015/2015_aba_rpte_pp_v29_5_article_blachly_planning_for_fiduciary_access_to_digital_assets.html

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

330 East Kilbourn Avenue
Suite 1170
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Phone: 414-271-1440
Fax: 414-271-7680
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