I believe you have planned your estate and made provisions on how your assets should be distributed among your heir stating categorically who gets what, what goes to charity, who is to manage the family’s business, who is to get your Lamborghini ride, etc.
If I were writing this article a few years back then I would have said you have done absolute justice to your estate plan by putting dose things in place but in this era we are in, I cant say that for certain because there is still an aspect –a huge aspect at that – which is yet to be included in your esttae. I guess you already knbow what im talking about. Ok, let me just say it; your digital assets.
It is very possible for you to make plans for all your physical assets probably because you can see them but forget to include your digital assets to your plan. These assets are as important as your offline assets. If you do not include them in your plan probably you forgot, what becomes their fate when you die? Does your family and loved ones know that you even have such assets? Even if they are aware of the existence of your digital assets, will they be able to gain easy access to them?
If this set of assets is not included in your estate plan, it can lead to lost of valuables such as your shares and stocks, your crypto –if you have, your social medial account having family photos, your cloud storage containing valuable files and documents. These could all be lost simply because you did not include them in your estate plan.
Accessing your digital assets
As your physical and offline assets are legally protected against access from others, same rule applies here. Your digital assets cannot be accessed by any other person apart from you. Apart from legal barriers, social medial platforms and other online forums has made it impossible for unauthorized access of your online accounts.
If you do not include these in your estate plan, your families might face some challenges accessing these assets of yours. Some of these challenge include
Password: Passwords are used for protecting data from unauthorized access. It could create restrictions for your heirs by locking them out of your online accounts. This could prevent them from accessing some of your assets. For instance you have a brokerage account where you have stocks or shares as the case maybe, if your access details –your password and username are not made available to your heirs, your digital assets might just be stuck up in there.
Other possible challenges that could hinder your love ones from easily accessing your assets include
- Data Encryption
- Fraud & Identity Theft Laws
- Data Privacy Laws, etc.
The good thing is that with a proper estate plan, you could minimize these hindrances. Some of the ways you can achieve this include
Making a list of all your digital assets and passwords
This is the very first step you need to take. Your loved ones won’t talk about accessing your digital assets if they are not aware such assets exist in the first place. This is why you should make a list of all your digit assets, where to find them and how to find them. With this your loved ones can easily locate your digital assets.
Next thing is to make a list comprising of your login details for each of these accounts. By doing this, your heirs can easily gain access to your digital assets without having to go through the court.
Providing specific consent in legal documents
In doing this, you should work with your attorney for guidance. Here you specify who should be granted access to your digital assets and which assets they should be granted access to. It could be your executor whom you wish to grant access to your digital assets and you can decide to grant him access only to a specific assets or to all your digital assets.
Watch out for advancement and changes in the online world
This is a very important aspect of managing and planning for your digital assets. Everyday brings with it an advancement in the digital world. So it is very important you keep track of these advancement and changes in order to make sure your digital plan is always in alignment with the trend of events.
In doing all of these, it is very important that an attorney guard you through each step to avoid making mistakes. Our attorneys are always available for consult and hire