Apple vs FBI and Your Digital Assets

Digital Assets

By: Terrie and Jon Hull

The digital asset assault is on and the FBI wants the key to the kingdom of your digital assets too. The current battle between Apple and the FBI is just the tip of the iceberg of the government’s desire not to protect your digital assets.

What are my digital assets you ask? Digital assets are every computing device you own, desk top, pad, smart phone, private servers, plus all of the information you store on these devices and on any cloud storage site such as, all social media, picture sites, banking sites, investment sites, email sites, domain names….get the picture?

As of today, there are no laws in this country at the Federal or State level which protect your digital assets. Some States have enacted meager laws that mostly address email accounts, but they are mostly ineffective for you. What is happening is that States are waiting for those on Capitol Hill to make laws, at which time they will adopt some or all of that verbiage. Here in Oregon, the Senate bill has just been sitting there without activity, just waiting. Meanwhile, those Americans who are passing away everyday are putting their family members under a great burden to try and access digital information of their loved ones.

Meanwhile, these websites which hold your personal information say that they do not have to give family access to that information stating that when someone clicks the terms of use button to use that website, they are entering in to a private contract and they do not have to give access to anyone else. They claim to “Own” that information!

There is a work around to all of these shenanigans. First, you need to keep track of all of your usernames and passwords. Second, you need to add the specific verbiage to your estate plan that covers all of the necessary digital assets. Third, you need to legally appoint someone to access these user names and passwords to the sites and devices should you become incapacitated or worse. You will also need to supply a list of these user names and passwords. There are several ways to do this and still be secure. By doing this you have created your own very binding laws.

If you have an estate lawyer ask yourself this question…. Has my lawyer called me to inform me of this? We’ll bet most of you just said no. It’s a better business model to say nothing, either on purpose, or through ignorance to make more money by trying to bail your loved ones out once it’s too late.

In March 2016, we will be launching a new video series, “Estate Planning Solutions for Families” This is the first part we mentioned, putting your affairs in order before you ever see a lawyer. This is the key to great estate planning. You have to know what and why you are protecting before you see a lawyer or run the risk of leaving you assets exposed. We will include digital assets in this series and show you exactly what we did when adding this component to our estate plan. You can have a sneak peek here,

If the thought of estate planning is new to you, please download our free e-book, “Points in Time” here . This will reveal how to always have your affairs in order as you move through life and the importance of family discussion about finances and family protection through the laws of this great land.

(Terrie and Jon Hull are Authors / Life & Legacy Information Experts. They focus most of their efforts toward bringing awareness to people on how to put their affairs in order, but also write on subjects that keep you and your finances safe. Visit for more information.)


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