Most everyone in New Jersey has all kinds of digital accounts. When people are doing their estate planning, some tend to forget that they need to provide for what will happen to that digital life. This can range from online bank accounts to a Facebook account and everything in between.
It may be a good idea to have a list of all digital accounts, their usernames, passwords and what should be done with those accounts upon death. For instance, an iTunes account full of movies and music can't be given to someone, but the content can be copied onto CDs. Facebook may not allow a family access to a deceased family member's website without a court order. New Jersey is currently not one of the only five states that allow access to Facebook accounts under certain conditions.
Online bank accounts that have no traditional paper trail can also be problematic after death. With no physical evidence of the account, it may not be discovered. Making sure that there is a record of these types of accounts available could save a lot of time and frustration for an executor after death.
So much more of the world is accessible to anyone these days, and so much of a person's life is online. This may be wonderful and convenient during life, but dealing with someone's digital life can be a nightmare after death. In today's digital world, estate planning needs to include a person's instructions of what is to be done with that digital life. Each person should have the option to decide for his or herself whether the accounts should be closed, preserved or emptied upon death.
Source: nj.com, "Money Matters: E-state planning in the digital age," Claire E. Toth, April 3, 2013