The importance of having digital estate plan has risen over the past decade as tech keeps n on breaking new grounds. This results in the question: Who has access to my online accounts and how will those accounts be managed and shared in the event of my incapacitation or death?
To answer that rather unusual question, we must look at the detail of digital estate planning.
What are digital assets and why should you care about them?
A digital asset can be an array of electronic records and files that are stores online, on mobile devices, or on PCs. Put differently, almost everything you keep a digital record of is deemed a digital asset and something that should be considered in your digital estate plan.
To clarify further, a digital asset can be any of the following:
- Social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
- Email accounts
- Online banking details
- Online subscription-based accounts
- Ecommerce or marketplace accounts (e.g. Amazon, eBay, etc.)
- Photos saved online or on cloud
- Online classroom accounts
- Online account for utilities
- Online gaming or dating accounts
- Flyer miles, credit card perks, etc.
- Any other personal information you store on your computer, cell phone or any other digital device.
While this is quite a huge list, there are some assets that, despite contrary belief, don’t qualify as digital assets. For instance underlying financial assets like electronic bank account statements, may be considered a digital asset: however the actual liquid fund held in the bank account would not be considered a digital asset.
Another example would be the ownership of cryptocurrency. While the account access platform (I.e. Binance) would be a digital asset, the asset itself ( e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum) would be included as part of the estate and thus subject to various set of laws.
Why is understanding the scope of your digital assets a big deal?
Prioritizing creating your digital estate plan (aka a will for your digital assets) will relieve your family members and loved ones from the extra stress that arises after a death. When your family can depend on a written plan that states the passwords for your digital assets including how those assets should be managed, they won’t have to worry about going through a more thorough probate process.
By creating a digital estate plan, you are safeguarding your online assets from risks such as identity theft, hacking, including fraud. You are as well giving your family absolute peace of mind (including access to crucial information, such as financial documents and insurance paperwork.
Create your digital estate plan using these four steps
Since technology has become a big part of our everyday lives, it can feel like second nature to secure crucial information regarding ourselves and our loved ones online. Computers save our passwords immediately, cell phone help store our amazing photos, tablets house our downloaded movies and music, etc.
Also, passwords requirements for several accounts are becoming more stringent (we are familiar with statements such as “passwords must be 8 characters, include a capital letter, symbol, number, etc.) Which makes it pretty easy to forget where crucial information is kept.
Here is how to make a digital estate plan. Mind you, you may not need an estate planning attorney for this.
- Take inventory of all your digital assets
- Decide where you want your digital assets to go
- Elect a digital executor
- Secure your digital estate plan and ensure that it is legally binding.
Need an estate planning attorney?
Planning an estate can be a complicated process. It involves a lot of paperwork and legal documents like power of attorney, trust, will, etc. Thus, if you want to plan your estate the right way, it is important that you contact a professional.
An estate planning attorney can help you in several ways. This professional can help you plan your estate and help you create the necessary estate planning documents. If you need to update your estate plan, this professional can be of help as well. Also, if you have concerns or questions, contacting an estate planning attorney is the best way to find answers.
We boast of competent estate planning attorneys who can help you navigate the tough estate planning process. Simple get in touch with our office so we can offer you or your loved ones our professional services.