"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." This oft quoted line originates from Thomas Grey's "Ode on a Distant Prospect at Eton College."
A well-publicized case out of Summit County highlights the importance of choosing your fiduciary wisely. Former radio personality Howie Chizek died in June 2012, leaving an estate with an estimated value of $1.6 million. The executor for his estate was an attorney named Charles M. Morgan. In addition to filing important probate documents late, the executor failed to file Ohio estate taxes, allowing interest and penalties to accrue for months after the estate tax return should have been filed.
As is often the case, sometimes it takes a while for the law to catch up with society's technological advances. Since the Internet is invisible, most people forget that their intangible digital assets are just as real as their tangible personal property. Currently, there are an estimated thirty million Facebook accounts that belong to people who are deceased. According to McAfee, in 2011 American consumers valued their digital assets, including online gaming, photos, music, client lists, bank accounts and bill-paying accounts at an average of $55,000 per person. And yet, few people plan for what will happen to those digital accounts when they die. Only a handful of states have addressed the ability of fiduciaries to handle and/or close down a decedent's or incapacitated person's accounts.