Engaging in the online world is virtually unavoidable these days. Most people don’t go a day (or an afternoon) without checking email, visiting Facebook or conducting business online. This digital element of our lives is expanding considerably, and it is crucial that people do not overlook this as they update their estate plans.
Whether you run an online business, store your photos in cloud-storage systems or are active on social media sites, you could have digital assets that warrant attention and protection in your estate plan.
Identifying your digital assets
Identifying your digital assets is the first step toward protecting them. Think about everything you have and do online. This can include:
- Downloading music and movies
- Investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies
- Logging into social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and even dating sites
- Managing bank accounts and retirement accounts
- Running a small business on Etsy
- Storing photos on a storage website
- Writing a blog
These are all accounts and assets that you may want someone to manage once you pass away. Keep track of them as well as the user names and passwords that someone would need to access them. Keep that information in a very safe place.
Determining what to do with digital assets
Think about what you want to happen to each of these accounts and assets. Depending on what they are, you may want to shut some down while giving someone the authority to continue accessing and controlling others. Take into consideration any rules each app or website has regarding the transfer of access or assets upon death of the account holder.
Addressing digital assets in your estate plan
Once you know what you have and what you want to do with your digital assets, include these details in your estate plan. Whether this involves updating your will or creating a trust, you can work with an attorney to ensure you have valid, enforceable plans in place that allow you to protect your digital assets as you would your physical assets.