Don’t Neglect Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

If you do anything online, you probably have digital assets. Digital assets are records that you own or control. If you do not make arrangements for those assets in your estate plan, it can cause unnecessary costs and additional stress to those you leave behind.

Online assets don’t leave a paper trail making it difficult for your loved ones to determine all your assets and accounts. In the past, your loved ones probably could have figured out what you owned and owed by going through your filing cabinets and your paper bills.  But now with the movement to go paperless and do banking online, it is harder to track should you pass away.

All the items that we store online could be affected such as precious photos and video collections. Heirs could also be locked out of electronic records some of which could have monetary consequences. Cryptocurrency and frequent flyer miles could be lost.  Emails and social media accounts could be hacked, and you would have no way to remedy it.  Even simple tasks such as online bill pay or canceling online subscriptions could blossom into a bigger problem if arrangements have not been made.

Adding a digital assets plan to your will can be as easy as giving some additional instructions to your executor on how to access all of your accounts. The first step in creating a plan is to make a list of all of your online accounts. Your lawyer should be able to help you with this and help you make sure you have not forgotten any. Don’t forget to include access to your devices such as your cell phone, especially if you have two-factor authentication set up to verify access to certain accounts. Another option is to keep your login credentials in a password manager. A password manager is a computer program that allows users to store, generate, and manage their passwords for local applications and online services.

You will also need to include in your estate plan instructions telling your executor what to do with various assets such as what to delete, what to archive and what to transfer to heirs.  Revisit this plan annually, so that it stays up to date with all the changing technologies and apps you might use. Talk to an experienced estate planning lawyer at Painter & Associates to help you and your family with your future needs should the unfortunate happen.

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