Consider Your Digital Assets When Estate Planning
Estate planning must evolve in tandem with our culture. As our society gravitates toward all things digital, people need to consider digital assets when developing a comprehensive estate plan. Your email accounts, company and personal blogs, online photo albums, online banking access and even social media accounts have value. What will happen to them if the passwords pass away with you?
What are digital assets?
The phrase digital assets essentially refers to any online account you own, even if the account is free to you, such as a Gmail email account or your Facebook page. (Think of all the online accounts you need a password to access.)
Digital assets also include software and individual files stored locally on your computer, as well as those stored in cloud-based services such as Dropbox, Box, Copy and others. In short, any password-protected online account or any type of file stored electronically by you is likely to be considered a digital asset.
Are digital assets worth worrying about?
You may not think your social networking accounts have any monetary value, but their emotional value to your loved ones after you're gone may be immeasurable. Someone needs to have authority to assume ownership of pictures, videos, and other digitally-stored files, to take down the accounts after your death or to convert them to memorial accounts, if permitted by the host.
Other types of digital assets are important for other reasons. If you are a savvy adult who manages your finances online and you suddenly become incapacitated due to a serious physical injury, your family may be unable to access the accounts to keep things running in your absence.
Avoid getting lost in a digital black hole
Unlike a Facebook or Instagram account, your approved “friends” don't get to peruse your email account at will. People tend use email accounts like shoeboxes, but the family pictures, contact information, and notes from friends and family are mixed in with email ads and appointment reminders. Someone needs to be able to access the important emails to make sure the contents are not lost forever.
Others use online platforms to secure documents the writer wants to keep confidential. A famous example is Leonard Bernstein's memoir. During his life, he made it known he was working on his memoir and planned to call it Blue Ink. Bernstein died in 1990 and his heirs have yet to find the correct password to extract the memoir from his computer.
Call our office to update your estate plan to include digital assets
While your will isn't the best place to leave your account logins and passwords, be sure to properly account for your digital assets in your comprehensive estate plan. Contact us today to discuss your options for providing authorization and access so you'll be prepared for the future. Contact Peterson Law Group today at 979-703-7014 to arrange an appointment or visit us online.
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