In today’s world, a majority of people possess a robust digital life – meaning a substantial portion of their personal information and business data are stored using digital formats. Despite navigating lifestyles defined by technology like smartphones, laptops, and tablets, many people aren’t cognizant of the value and extent of their digital assets. Similar to physical assets, your digital records can be passed on to family and loved ones in the event of your death. Imagine the potential loss – on both a sentimental and financial level – if these digital items were inaccessible?
Defining Digital Assets
Digital assets encompass any service or online account protected by some kind of password or security measure. Examples include:
- Your computer files and any files stored via Cloud accounts.
- Social networking accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Investment accounts and online banking accounts
- Email accounts (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, etc.)
- Owned domains, websites, and blogs
- Any digital videos, photos, or copyright material that produce income
- All online subscriptions, credit card rewards, and/or virtual currencies.
- Any shopping or bill payment accounts.
The Importance of Incorporating Digital Assets into Your Estate Planning
1 | Prevent Losses to Your Estate
If electronic bills or accounts are not promptly identified and accessed, it can lead to unwanted cancellations and lofty interest or late payment fees. For those who own their own online business, the best course of action is to designate a specific individual who will be able to access company bank accounts, incoming orders, and employee payroll data.
2 | Alleviate Headaches & Barriers Your Loved Ones or Executors May Face
By furnishing family members and appropriate parties with a clear and detailed roadmap of all your digital assets, it’ll mitigate any difficulties associated with handling your various documents, usernames, and passwords.
3 | Circumvent the Prospect of Depriving Family & Loved Ones of Your Story
From social media accounts to personal blogs, a bulk of our lives are stored online – replacing things like physical photo albums, letters, or diaries. These items are incredibly precious and hold immense sentimental value for loved ones. By establishing a record of how and where to access these assets, it’ll ensure priceless mementos from your life can be cherished in lieu of being lost or deleted.
4 | Thwart the Possibility of Identity Theft
Without providing family members with quick and simple access to your digital assets, it opens the gateway for criminals to steal personal information and utilize it for things like opening new credit card accounts.
The following worksheet was designed to help you categorize and keep a record of all of your digital assets. Ensure this information stays secure by filing it in a safe place, as well as sharing a copy with your power of attorney, executor, and/or trusted family members who would potentially need to access this information.