Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

Death and Digital Assets


     By Evidence Solutions, Inc. Computer Technology and Digital Forensic Firm

PhoneCall Scott Greene, Evidence Solutions, Inc. at (866) 795-7166


It is inevitable, one day you will die. Modern science may someday cure this flaw in the human body, but for now we know that at some point, we will cease to be alive. This brings about a flurry of various costs and fees (dying can be expensive) and your possessions will be given to your next of kin. But what happens to your digital possessions?
As we have touched upon in previous newsletters and articles, anything that goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet. It is a vast digital elephant that never forgets. But you can limit this once you die.

Background

Odds are your loved ones will have little or no use for your email and other digital information (social network, Youtube videos, Blogger account, etc.), so Google has introduced their Inactive Account Manager (IAM). IAM is a horrible acronym for this, but its theory is simple: after you set this feature up, if you do not login to the system after a particular amount of time, or a trusted person instructs them to, Google will systematically delete your account and all the data with it.

Google will first send you an alert, usually to your cell phone via text, before your account is deemed “inactive”, which you can set to be anywhere from 3-12 months. If you don’t answer this text, Google will notify up to 10 people that your account is account to be deleted, and ask them what they want to have happen. They can either save your data, or delete it. Alternatively, you can tell Google not to share anything, and just delete the account without anyone being aware.

It's recommended that you keep a printed copy of your usernames and passwords for Google, FaceBook and other social media, and store it with your will. With instructions as to what you want to have happen with your data.

Digital Assets Powers of Attorney

To give the Agent power over digital assets:

Digital Assets. My Agent shall have (i) the power to access, use, and control my digital devices, including but not limited to, desktops, laptops, tablets, peripherals, storage devices, mobile telephones, smartphones, and any similar digital device which currently exists or may exist as technology develops for the purpose of accessing, modifying, deleting, controlling, or transferring my digital assets, and (ii) the power to access, modify, delete, control, and transfer my digital assets, including but not limited to, my emails received, email accounts, digital music, digital photographs, digital videos, software licenses, social network accounts, file sharing accounts, financial accounts, banking accounts, domain registrations, DNS service accounts, web hosting accounts, tax preparation service accounts, online stores, affiliate programs, other online accounts, and similar digital items which currently exist or may exist as technology develops, and (iii) the power to obtain, access, modify, delete, and control my passwords and other electronic credentials associated with my digital devices and digital assets described above.

For greater emphasis to banks, include in the provision giving the Agent powers regarding financial accounts: “….and to access, modify, delete, control, and transfer my digital financial accounts.”

Wills

To give the Executor power to access/manage digital assets (or when using the alternate clause, to engage another named person to do so):

“My Executor shall have the power to access, handle, distribute, and dispose of my digital assets, and the power to obtain, access, modify, delete, and control my passwords and other electronic credentials associated with my digital devices and digital assets. [ALTERNATIVE: I authorize my Executor to engage and to assist in accessing, handling, distributing, and disposing of my digital assets.] If I have prepared a memorandum, which may be altered by me from time to time, with instructions concerning my digital assets and their access, handling, distribution, and disposition, I direct my Executor and beneficiaries to follow my instructions as outlined in that memorandum. “Digital assets” includes the following:

(1) Files stored on my digital devices, including but not limited to, desktops, laptops, tablets, peripherals, storage devices, mobile telephones, smartphones, and any similar digital device which currently exists or may exist as technology develops; and

(2) Emails received, email accounts, digital music, digital photographs, digital videos, software licenses, social network accounts, file sharing accounts, financial accounts, banking accounts, domain registrations, DNS service accounts, web hosting accounts, tax preparation service accounts, online stores, affiliate programs, other online accounts, and similar digital items which currently exist or may exist as technology develops, regardless of the ownership of the physical device upon which the digital item is stored.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scott Greene, Evidence Solutions, Inc.
For over 30 years, Scott Greene has been helping companies meet the challenges of the swiftly evolving computer technology industry.

Directly from high school, Scott went to work for IBM. Scott studied Systems Engineering at the University of Arizona. He has since earned certifications in many products and programming languages.

The Evidence Solutions team analyzes data from Computers, Cell Phones, Black Boxes, Dispatch Systems, Medical Records, Email systems and more. Scott then explains the digital evidence in plain English.

Scott’s extensive knowledge draws clients to him from all over the United States as well as Internationally for consulting, Forensics and expert witness services. His extensive and diverse experience allows him to be an expert in many facets of digital and electronic evidence. Scott, a sought after speaker and educator, travels throughout the country sharing his knowledge and presenting to local, regional, national and International organizations.

Copyright Evidence Solutions, Inc.

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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