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Protecting Your Digital Assets: Incorporating Online Accounts Into Your Estate Plan

Protecting Your Digital Assets: Incorporating Online Accounts into Your Estate Plan

In today’s tech-savvy world, the importance of incorporating digital assets into your estate plan cannot be overstated. As we increasingly rely on digital tools and platforms for everything from banking to social interactions, ensuring these assets are protected after we’re gone has become a crucial aspect of comprehensive estate planning. This guide will provide critical insights for those in St. Clair Shores, MI, looking to safeguard their digital legacies and assets.

Understanding Digital Assets

What Qualifies as a Digital Asset?

Digital assets encompass a wide range of online accounts and electronic records, including but not limited to:

  • Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn
  • Email Accounts: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook
  • Financial Accounts: Online banking, investment accounts, PayPal, cryptocurrency wallets
  • Business Accounts: Online stores, websites, domain names
  • Digital Collections: Photos, videos, eBooks, music libraries
  • Subscription Services: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify
  • Intellectual Property: Blogs, written works, patents stored online

Challenges Posed by Digital Assets in Estate Planning

Managing digital assets poses unique challenges due to their intangible nature. Unlike physical assets, digital assets are often protected by passwords and encryption, making it difficult for heirs to access these accounts without proper authorization. Furthermore, different digital platforms have varying policies regarding account access after a user’s death, which can complicate matters further.

Legal Framework

Overview of the Legal and Regulatory Landscape

Incorporating digital assets into an estate plan requires navigating a complex legal landscape. While federal laws like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act provide some guidance, state-specific regulations play a critical role.

In Michigan, the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADAA) governs how digital assets are managed after death. This law allows individuals to specify how their digital assets should be handled, either through an online tool provided by the platform or within their will or trust.

Focus on Michigan Laws

Under Michigan law, if specific directions for managing digital assets are not provided, fiduciaries may encounter significant hurdles in accessing and managing these accounts. Therefore, it is crucial to clearly articulate your wishes regarding digital assets within your estate planning documents.

Incorporating Digital Assets into Your Estate Plan

Practical Steps and Considerations

  1. Inventory Your Digital Assets: Create a comprehensive list of all your digital assets, including login credentials and account details. This list should be updated regularly to account for any new accounts or changes to existing ones.
  2. Appoint a Digital Executor: Designate a trusted individual to manage your digital assets after your death. This person can be the same as your traditional executor or someone specifically chosen for their technical expertise.
  3. Include Specific Instructions: Clearly outline how you want each digital asset to be managed. For example, you may wish for social media accounts to be memorialized or deleted, while financial accounts should be transferred to a beneficiary.
  4. Utilize Online Tools: Some digital platforms provide tools for managing account access after death. For example, Google’s Inactive Account Manager allows you to specify who should have access to your account if it becomes inactive.
  5. Legal Documentation: Ensure your will, trust, and power of attorney documents include provisions for digital assets. Work with an estate planning lawyer to draft these documents in compliance with Michigan laws.
  6. Regular Review and Updates: Regularly review and update your estate plan to reflect any changes in your digital assets or personal wishes.


Incorporating digital assets into your estate plan is essential for protecting your online presence and ensuring your wishes are honored. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a robust estate plan that addresses the unique challenges posed by digital assets.

For those in St. Clair Shores, MI, seeking professional assistance in estate planning, Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC offers expert guidance tailored to your unique needs. Don’t leave your digital legacy to chance—schedule a consultation today by calling 586-496-7525.

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