More people are working and storing valuable information digitally, but laws to govern how those assets are passed on are lagging. The Triad Business Journal's Laura Mazurak takes a closer look at the cyber space issue. For this week's Business Report, she talks with WFDD's Keri Brown about what happens to your “digital” self after you die.

Maybe you've gotten around to drafting your will, or determining a business succession plan.  Investments and physical assets are covered, but what about your digital property?

In times past the dead left a paper trail. Now your family photos and letters are stored in the Cloud or on hard drives.

Unless you're proactive during the estate planning process, your digital assets, from family photos to private bank accounts and social media profiles, are at risk of being inaccessible.

“Start treating these digital assets like you would any physical asset that you would write in your will,” says Mazurak. “In addition to saying who gets the house in your will, you should be saying what happens to your digital assets in a will or estate documents. When you are going through the estate planning process and meet with an attorney, you can provide them with a physical copy of accounts and passwords so when you pass, they can be passed on to your beneficiary.”

Mazurak says knowing social media policies of each social media provider can also help protect your digital property when you die. “For example, Facebook has three options for what you can do with your account after your death. One of its new features lets you select a legacy contact from your friends. That person can make one last post on your behalf and change your profile picture and make a few last minute adjustments to create your lasting legacy on Facebook.”

Mazurak says with a gap in federal statutes and new technologies, there's increasing call for states to pass legislation protecting an individual's digital assets.

However, the majority of states have yet to do so, including North Carolina.

In 2013, an estates and trusts bill introduced in the North Carolina Senate included a provision for digital assets to be passed on to the grantor's descendants, but the digital accounts section was removed prior to the bill being signed into law.

The Business Report on 88.5 WFDD is a partnership with the Triad Business Journal.


*Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news


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