How to Manage Your Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan
We are living in a digital age where almost everything can be stored “online”. It’s become clear that our online lives are becoming just as complicated as our real lives when it comes to estate planning. As such, it’s important to consider what will happen to your digital assets when you pass away, which can include your online accounts, websites and computer files among other online items.
Here are some things to consider as you plan for the management of your digital assets in your estate plan.
What are Digital Assets?
Digital assets include a wide range of items including but not limited to the following:
- email accounts
- pictures, videos and music
- virtual documents
- websites & blogs
- domain names
- social media accounts
- computers and handheld devices
- online shopping, business and bank accounts
Estate Planning: What to do with Digital Assets
It is important to consider who you will want to have access to and take control of all the above items at the time of your death as well as how they will gain access at that time. This can be difficult in some cases because the terms of service differ for each digital platform and frequently the service provider has the ability to take control of accounts upon death or disability.
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for how to manage your digital assets, here’s how you can begin to get organized as you create your estate plan:
- Create a list of all your digital assets and accounts. Don’t forget to include all usernames and passwords, security questions and answers and any other identifying details that will provide your successors with access to your information.
- Update your digital assets list frequently and ensure your successors will have access to the updated list when the time comes. Your list can be anything from a handwritten document to an excel spreadsheet or even a password-protected online document like a Google Sheets doc. Whatever method you chose, ensure that it’s stored securely so that there is no possibility for identity theft.
- Since your will becomes a public document upon your death, do not include the details or password information for your digital assets list within your will. Rather, write down where to find your list, how it can be accessed (including any login/password combinations required to access the document) and store this information with your attorney or in a safety deposit box.
- Include a provision in your will and power of attorney that covers the management and succession for your digital asset accounts.
Estate planning is quickly evolving with our digital age and our online presence is now considered to be part of our legacy. Many of us have digital assets that play into how we plan for the future so be sure to reflect upon this during the process of estate planning.
If you need further guidance or are unsure about your specific circumstances, please speak with one of our trusted estate planning attorneys. Please call us at Fingeret Law at 412.281.8222 or contact us online.