Most people shudder at the mere thought of having to plan for their own or a loved one's death. Personal belongings and financial assets are often planned for when it comes to arranging a person's estate and transferring property. However, many of us might forget to include what we do online and how our digital affairs should be handled after we are gone.
Only about a third of Americans have a will, but The New York Times writes that even fewer individuals have thought about sorting out the digital things they may also leave behind. Even if what we do in cyberspace is not physically tangible, most of us leave a part of who we are online - from pictures on Facebook, to personal thoughts shared on a blog.
So as New Yorkers continue to post thousands of pictures on Flickr, upload numerous videos on YouTube, and tweet hundreds of status updates, what will happen to everything they leave in cyberspace? Who will have access to what digital matter, and for how long?
Many NY estate planning attorneys and advisors are still figuring out those answers. Avatars created for games, like World of Warcraft, may actually have intellectual-property or financial value. According to The Times, media-consultants have also begun discussing the legal implications of digital possessions left unattended.
North Carolina interaction-design experts Evan Carroll and John Romano have even published a book called "Your Digital Afterlife," offering advice on matters such as choosing a "digital executor." New businesses focused on managing a person's internet affairs after death are also beginning to surface.
To learn more about how to handle your own personal or digital affairs, seek legal counsel from an NY estate planning attorney who can inform you of the various legal options that may be available to you. For general information on estate planning, visit the Related Resources links below.
- After Death What Happens to Your Accounts Online? (FindLaw's Law And Daily Life Blog)
- Get In Touch With An NY Estate Planning Attorney (FindLaw)
- Preserving a Digital Legacy: Estate Planning in the Age of Facebook (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)