New York Executors, Administrators and Guardians have the responsibility of ascertaining, protecting and collecting the assets, documents and other effects of the estate or incapacitated person they are appointed to oversee. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has previously discussed fiduciary responsibility concerning asset determination and protection.
An interesting aspect in this area of responsibility concerns assets, information and accounts that are internet or web-based. A fairly basic question is what becomes of a website or Facebook account or other internet based information after a person dies or becomes incapacitated. An insightful article by Ken Strutin entitled What Happens to Your Digital Life When You Die? appeared in Law Technology News on January 26, 2011. As noted in the article “the majority of state laws make no specific provisions for information assets such as those stored in the cloud.”
An Article 81 Guardian or a New York Executor faces issues not only with collecting and preserving these internet items, but may need to be able to value them for tax purposes or possibly for disposal by sale. For the most part, the estate settlement process will be in unchartered waters when dealing with such matters. As a New York Guardianship and Probate attorney, I have assisted clients in resolving many different and complex issues regarding asset identification, collection and disposal. Fiduciaries that are appointed by the Court bear a lot of responsibility in resolving the diverse issues they encounter in administering an estate. It is important for them to consider all matters thoroughly and make decisions that avoid Court criticism.
New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to Article 81 Guardianship and estate settlement throughout New York City including Brooklyn and Queens. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.