How to protect your digital assets should be top of mind as our lives move more online. Your digital assets may be a huge part of your estate and you may not even know it. Many think that tangible assets are all that needs to be in an estate plan, like your house, your money, etc. But now is the time to take stock of how much of your life is online and how you can protect your digital assets for the next generation. For more information about what your digital assets may be, read our previous blog post.
The first step to protecting your digital assets is to take inventory of what you have. This task can seem tedious or daunting, but there’s really no way around it. Start with your accounts that you use the most and make a list of your login information. Your email, social media accounts, logins for your bank account and investment accounts, any rewards programs, intellectual property like your business website, etc. Make a list of how to access anything important that lives online. Having a physical copy of this list in a secure location is easiest for your digital executor, but you can also use password saving software tools.
Name a Digital Executor
In your estate plan you will name your trust executor and beneficiaries, but it’s also a good idea to put someone in charge specifically of your digital assets. Now if you think your trust executor can handle this, then there’s no reason to name someone else. But consider how much of your assets live online and also how tech savvy that person may need to be. Logging into your bank account is one thing, but if you have cryptocurrency that you are passing on, it may require a little more technical know how. Share with this person where they would access your digital asset inventory list and information. Also share with them your plans for your digital assets.
Make a Plan for Your Digital Assets
After taking inventory of your digital assets, decide what you want to happen with them once you’re no longer here. Start with any currency or valuable assets and work your way through. Consider your tax implications and how your cryptocurrency or other assets would be transferred. Make sure any of these assets are also a part of your estate plan as your estate planning professional can help you to plan the best route to transfer these assets. Think about your sentimental items as well like your photos or any artwork or writing that live in the digital realm. Have a plan to pass on family pictures and ensure there are copies for those who would want them.
Enlist Help from a Professional
As a part of the estate planning process, always consult an estate planning professional in your area. Your digital assets should be a part of your estate plan and your estate planning professional can help you prepare the best plan for what you have. Make sure both your attorney and your digital executor know your plan for your digital assets and how to contact each other as they may need to work together when the time comes.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of cataloging your digital assets. It’s such an important part of your estate plan as we move more and more of our lives online. With the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can feel relieved that your digital assets will be easily located, managed, and passed to your loved ones.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.