St. Louis Estate Planning Formula Law

In Missouri, Access a Decedent’s Online Accounts Without a Will or Trust

We all have a digital footprint that does not necessarily die with us. There are three things you should do to best prepare your executor, trustee or other personal representative to properly handle your posthumous digital affairs.

Every year, Americans receive Facebook reminders to wish deceased friends a happy birthday. It’s a sad reminder, but it happens because most people don’t address their digital assets as part of their estate plans. In Missouri, however, you may still be able to access a decedent’s online accounts without a will or trust.  A recent article from the Monterey Herald, “Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: Your digital life does not die with you,” explains how to get started.

When you die, certain platforms allow you to name someone to become your Account Manager or Legacy contact. Google’s Account Manager lets you set up parameters to notify someone if you have been inactive for a certain period of time. Facebook enables you to name a person to manage your account after you pass away. Apple also has a Legacy Contact option.

Like everything else online, website guidelines change, so in addition to naming an Account Manager or Legacy contact, you will want to make sure you create a last will and testament or trust that includes the appropriate digital assets provisions establishing your wishes for your social media and online accounts.

If you have digital currency or cryptocurrency, you’ll need an executor or probate attorney who understands how crypto works. They should be able to access your digital wallet and “key”, so they may access your assets. These funds are frequently lost due to a lack of planning and no paper trail to follow.

In Missouri, you are able to give your Power of Attorney access to your digital assets in case of incapacity. Speak with a Formula Law estate planning attorney to be sure that your power of attorney includes the ability to manage digital assets according to the laws in the state of Missouri.

If the decedent had a will, the executor may have a list of websites and apps where the decedent was a user. This may include Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), Linked In, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Apple accounts, Google email, Microsoft Outlook, bank accounts, investment accounts, photo storage and any other sites the decedent used. The decedent may have used an online password manager or paper to make a list. Whatever method the decedent uses, the decedent’s executor may know where the information can be found.

However, the deceased’s electronic accounts, including music, photos, emails, or cryptocurrency, may not be lost if the decedent did not have a will, trust, or power of attorney. In Missouri, access a decedent’s online accounts, photos, music, and emails without a will or trust, book a call with a Formula Law probate attorney to discuss your options.

Reference: Monterey Herald (March 1, 2024) “Liza Horvath, Senior Advocate: Your digital life does not die with you”

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