Every year we store more information online and on our hard drives. As our lives become more digitized, estate planning should follow. Estate planning is the preparation of how someone’s assets will be managed and distributed when they become incapacitated or die. This usually includes money and prized possessions such as cars, jewelry, collectibles, or even furniture. However, any modern estate plan should include your digital assets as well. Digital asset estate plan.
What are Digital Assets?
If you have a computer or a smartphone, you most likely have digital assets. Digital assets are anything you keep online or on a hard drive. These may include:
- Photos and videos
- Social media accounts
- Email accounts
- Websites or domain names you own
- Streaming service subscriptions
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
Some digital assets are financially valuable, while others are sentimental or contain personal information. There are also hybrid assets that have both physical and digital parts. For example, you may have some medical records stored in a file cabinet, but also on your computer.
Including Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan
Including your digital assets in your estate plan will make life easier for your loved ones in the future. An effective estate plan will give your executor and beneficiaries the information, instructions, and legal authority they need to access, distribute, and benefit from your digital assets.
The first step to digital asset planning is to make a detailed list of all your digital assets and the passwords or instructions to access them. This list should contain usernames, account numbers, and answers to security questions. It’s important to be as thorough as possible to take out any guesswork for your loved ones in the future. This list should be stored in a secure place. You should check in with your experienced estate planning attorneys regularly to update this list as passwords, assets, and laws surrounding digital assets change.
Even with a list of passwords, accessing another person’s digital information might not be legal. Our experienced estate planning attorneys and staff will make sure that your executor and beneficiaries are granted proper authorization in accordance with the law.
Like with your physical assets, you’ll need to decide who will have access to these assets and how they will be managed. If you’re not someone who goes online or uses the computer much, you may just name a single executor to control your digital assets. However, the more digital assets you have, the more decisions there are to be made. Maybe you want to leave your online brokerage account to your kids, but your email inbox to your business partner. Or maybe you own a few domain names that you wish to be sold or have a blog that you want to be deleted after your death. Once you decide on these plans for your digital assets, Mortellaro Law will help you include them in your estate planning documents.
If you have digital assets you want to be included in your estate plan, or just need help getting started with estate planning, fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation with us.