When you think of estate planning, what comes to your mind? Perhaps you were thinking of leaving behind a prized heirloom, giving away an ancestral home, or creating a trust fund to help your loved ones overcome financial hardship.
All these things are true, but you should also consider one other type of asset that’s often overlooked: digital assets. When you die, what will happen to the photos and memories you’ve made on social media? Or what about your investments in cryptocurrency?
Having a plan for your digital assets is just as important as making a roadmap for how your relatives would handle your physical assets and properties when you pass away.
What counts as a digital asset?
Many things can count as your digital assets. While the information and messages stored in your computers and mobile devices certainly count, some digital assets aren’t as obvious. Here are some digital assets for you to consider:
- Accounts for emails, most online services, video games, and social media
- Online blogs (written or vlogs)
- URLs for domain names you own
- Video channels (on YouTube or other video-sharing platforms)
Why should your estate plan account for digital assets?
Unlike physical assets, digital assets – except for things like cryptocurrency – may not necessarily be worth anything to others. So why should they be in your estate plan?
You’ll want your digital assets in the hands of your loved ones mainly because of identity theft and fraud. Cybercriminals and other bad actors can abuse your information by impersonating you online at best or try to steal money from your estate in the worst cases.
Starting on your digital estate planning
It can be daunting to consider including digital assets in your estate planning. After all, the term “digital assets” can encompass a wide range of electronic properties. To start, you can take the following steps:
- Create a list of all your digital assets: Whether it’s your passwords for your various online accounts or some cryptocurrency stored in a cold wallet, you’ll want to list everything for your loved ones to refer to. Ensure that this list is stored safely and that your family members can access it in the event of your death.
- Make back-ups: You should save electronic information and things like your digital photos in data storage backups. Keeping them on an external drive may be enough, but you might also consider storing them on cloud storage.
- Indicate consent in your estate plan documents: Most importantly, you’ll want to update your estate plan to include terms that will grant permission to your beneficiaries to access your digital assets.
Your digital footprint will last long after you’re gone, so consider adding your digital assets to your estate plan. Work with an attorney to ensure that you don’t miss the most crucial assets and that your electronic information remains safe in the hands of those you trust.