Have you ever wondered what will happen to your digital assets after your death? From email to social media accounts, online banking to cryptocurrency, it is clear that our digital footprint will continue to grow as technology evolves.
Unfortunately, the legislature isn’t keeping pace with the needs of constituents when it comes to estate planning and virtual property. From state-to-state, laws differ as to how the each state protects digital assets after someone dies and the mechanisms available to heirs to access a love one’s digital property.
To avoid running the risk of robbing your heirs of your valuable virtual assets, here are some tips to help you navigate estate planning in the ever-changing digital landscape.
Catalog Your Digital Assets
The first step in creating a plan to pass on digital assets is to catalog them. A digital asset is an electronically stored piece of content or an online account that an individual owns. These assets include online photographs, social media accounts, cryptocurrency accounts, domain names, and other digital files.
When you create a catalog of these assets, you gather all of the passwords, login information, and account details in one central location. It is also essential that you keep your digital catalog up-to-date and in a secure location throughout your lifetime.
Check With Online Service Providers
Online service providers like Facebook and Google recently introduced tools that let users proactively designate someone in their social network to manage their accounts once they have passed away. Other online servicer providers will likely develop similar tools in the future. By using these devices, you can protect your privacy after your death while easing the management of your estate for your loved ones.
When it comes to digital assets, you cannot rely on the general definition of an asset to ensure that your executor distributes your virtual property according to your wishes. You must be specific about your intentions and desires if you want your loved ones to distribute your digital assets accurately.
In your estate documents, be sure to specify whether your executor should have access to all of your accounts, passwords and files. Also be clear about whether he should be able to “step in your shoes” and create posts or make transactions on your behalf.
If you have questions about digital assets in your estate plan, we can help. Send us a message or call us at (314) 454-9100.