Most people at some time give thought to estate planning for the future of their assets and loved ones. But in our modern times, your Digital Estate may not get the attention it deserves. Here, a Wills and Trusts Attorney in Tampa from Mortellaro Law discusses handling your Digital Estate Planning in Florida.
What is a Digital Estate?
We are surrounded by technology and so it is no surprise that most of our financial affairs are handled through digital mediums. All this electronic information stored on your computer, tablet, smartphone, smart watch, and in the cloud is considered a “digital asset” and as such, part of your digital estate. These assets may or may not have financial value, but they typically have some sort of value to you, and should be accounted for in your complete estate plan.
Think of all the electronic assets you possess and use on a regular basis. Make a tally of them by category so it is easier to keep track of them. This is your Digital Estate.
Personal Property | Discusses Handling Digital Estate Planning
List all your personal online accounts on social media, email accounts, personal shopping accounts, photo storage accounts, video sharing accounts, and other ways you interact online. Be sure to include all the usernames and passwords for each account.
Property with Monetary Value
List here your accounts that actually hold money, like bank accounts, credit accounts, PayPal, Venmo, Wallet, Samsung Pass, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Cash App, loyalty rewards accounts, online betting accounts, and any other programs or apps that can hold or transfer money. This can also include any bitcoin or other cryptocurrency holdings and NFTs. Again, list the usernames and passwords for each account or app.
Do you operate an online store like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, or others? These accounts are also part of your digital property. Many may hold real assets like intellectual property you have created (eBooks, drawings, photos, music, etc.) and to which you hold the rights. Include any website domains you hold, blog content with original writing, and online video channels where the content is monetized and produces a profit.
It is estimated that the average consumer in the US has around 100 or more online accounts with usernames and passwords! And yet, we often underestimate the value of our digital estate.
Managing My Digital Estate Planning with a Will
A Will and Trusts Attorney in Tampa can explain how a legal will can help you manage your estate, including your digital estate. All your digital assets and the information required to access them should be recorded in your will. Be sure to include instructions for how you wish these assets to be handled, recorded, donated, liquidated, maintained, or otherwise distributed by your executor.
Digital assets with monetary value will be of particular importance, as they will form part of your estate that will be subject to probate. If you hold significant digital assets and do not account for them in your estate planning, this can cause serious problems or setbacks during probate. They may cost your loved ones or other beneficiaries tax penalties and delays. They may also be subject to seizure or liquidation to satisfy debts.
Managing My Digital Estate Planning with Trusts
Digital assets that hold some monetary value may be better managed by placing them in a Florida trust. Different types of trusts exist to hold property and shield it from probate, excessive taxation, exploitation, and loss. By placing assets in a trust, you can direct how they are used and preserved, saving them for your loved ones and protecting them from risk of seizure by creditors or lawsuits.
Asset protection trusts are designed to protect even digital assets from excess taxation, misuse, and more. For example, if you own an online store that contains intellectual property for sale (writing or music for download as an example), this can be an ongoing source of income. Placing this digital asset in a trust allows your beneficiary to continue enjoying the profits of this property indefinitely, or however you leave instruction within the trust documentation.
Digital assets in trust can also be left to specific beneficiaries who may better appreciate the assets and enjoy benefitting from them, preserving them for the future, and more.
Get Help from a Wills and Trusts Attorney in Tampa
If this is the first time you have ever considered your digital estate assets, now is the time to review them and compile a comprehensive record for your estate plan. Help from a Wills and Trusts Attorney in Tampa from Mortellaro Law can be invaluable as you seek to protect your digital assets and preserve them for future generations.
Contact Mortellaro Law today to schedule an estate planning consultation and review your digital assets.