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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

Don't let digital assets be the reason for estate litigation

There are a number of things that can result in claims being made against an estate. Failing to protect and manage digital assets is one of them. Much of New Jersey residents' lives is now online, as it is just the way the world is going. If digital assets are not included in an estate plan, or the proper measures are not taken to ensure they can be accessed and passed on to beneficiaries, estate litigation may be inevitable.

The truth of the matter is, digital assets are not often thought of when estate planning. If accounts and passwords have been shared with a spouse, why does it matter? They can deal with it, right? Not necessarily, as there are still digital privacy laws that companies will enforce -- just because one has the password does not mean he or she has the right to use it. If passwords are not shared, these companies are not required to give them to the next of kin unless certain forms were filled out by the deceased or a digital executor is assigned.

If digital assets are accessed without the right permissions, an estate may face lawsuits by the company holding the account. To that same end, beneficiaries may also file claims seeking access to digital assets. In other words, this can be one big mess for everyone involved.

Digital assets are here to stay. They are not going away, and as the years go by, New Jersey residents are bound to increase the number of digital assets that they have. Those who wish to help their loved ones avoid estate litigation over such assets can take steps now in order to ensure that they are fully accessible. Those who do end up dealing with digital asset debates in probate as they try to close out their loved ones' estates may turn to legal counsel for assistance as well.

Source:, "Do You Have a Plan for Your Digital 'Estate'?" Christine Benz, Dec. 15, 2017

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