Many people are surprised by just how extensive their digital presence is. This digital life must be integrated into a person’s estate plans. If you fail to consider your digital life while estate planning, your heirs are likely to face many challenges including anxiety and additional costs. Today, your estate plan is not complete unless you have taken digital assets like accounts and files into consideration. This article reviews some important issues you should consider as you engage in estate planning for your digital assets.
# 1 – Realize Digital Assets Include Several Things
Digital assets include any online accounts or services that are protected by a login identity. This includes accounts associated with email, social media, message boards, and subscriptions. Additionally, any files or web domains that you might own also constitute digital assets. Online financial accounts also constitute digital assets.
# 2 – Inventory Your Digital Assets
The best way to begin estate planning around your digital assets is to create a digital inventory. Not only should you make sure to list each of your assets, but you should also include details about your digital liabilities. You should also include details about any assets that are partially digital including financial accounts with online access. While listing details of these assets, you should also make sure to include account numbers as well as the full names listed on accounts.
# 3 – Determine Who Should Have Access
Once you complete an inventory about all of the digital assets that you own, you determine who should have access to each of these digital accounts. You should then make sure that your wishes are fully reflected in your estate plan. Most estate plans involve giving the executor access to financial accounts and any other valuable digital assets or accounts needed for the estate. An executor will manage and eventually transfer these assets to new owners as directed under the terms of your estate plan. An executor will also ensure that bills are paid while an estate is being processed. If you decide to give different individuals access to different accounts, it is often a good idea to create a separate list of digital accounts for each person.
# 4 – Determine How Incomplete Work Will Be Handled
Many people pass away with some type of incomplete work on their computers. In these situations, it is often critical to leave details in your estate plan about how this information should be handled after your death.
# 5 – Review Account Policies
Digital account providers frequently have their own policies. It is important to review the terms for each account that you own to make sure that assets are properly transferred. Otherwise, you miss violating account policies which could interfere with the transfer of asset ownership.
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer
It can be difficult to determine how to best handle your digital assets. If you need the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, do not hesitate to contact Ettinger Estate Planning today.