Digital Assets And Estate Planning

Today’s world is all about convenience. With that convenience comes the usage of web-based services for everything from banking to communication. When it came to estate planning, funeral directors used to recommend that individuals write down their different accounts with companies and the number to contact to disconnect them. Today, those assets are digital which means the process of closing them out can be a bit more difficult.

What are Digital Assets?

Digital assets include an array of different things such as:

  • Computer hardware/external drives or thumb drives.
  • Smartphones
  • Digital music players
  • E-Readers
  • Electronically stored data
  • Email accounts/ cloud based accounts
  • Merchant accounts
  • Video/File share accounts
  • Online storage/cloud accounts
  • Banking accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Websites owned/operated
  • Any copyrighted materials

When planning your estate, information for these different accounts should be compiled into a list for the executor of your will. This should include login information, security question answers, support contact, and site links.

Deciding What to Do With These Assets

The next thing you need to do when planning your estate is decide what you would like done with your digital assets. These instructions should be outlined in your will for your family/friends to follow. Include a list of individuals that should be notified upon your death and the method to contact them if it involves avenues such as social media accounts.

Assets that have monetary value such as websites may need to be sold off or maintained. There are multiple options for this type of digital asset. Your estate needs to cover transferring of such property as well as a step by step guideline for completing this task. If your intention is for a digital asset to continue on after you have passed, then consider whom would be most qualified to handle that commitment and talk with them beforehand. In terms of something like a website, you should be able to contact your domain host about what to do when the time comes. Additionally, it is never too early to consider adding secondary account holders to your digital assets so that when you do pass, they are able to properly access it.

Lastly, decide on someone whom you trust to be your digital executor. This should be an individual, likely a family member or close friend, who you feel safe having access to your information. Keep in mind that a digital executor declaration is not necessarily legally binding – this varies by state – if they are not the full executor of your will. Depending on the value of your digital assets, you may want to take steps to put them into a legally binding document. This procedure varies by state and should be done with the assistance of an attorney. Contact the Law Office of Anne Dowden Saxton today to create or update your Estate Plan.

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