Protecting Digital Assets During Estate Planning
A digital asset is any asset that exists in a digital device or online, unlike a physical asset. Below are some examples of digit assets:
- Digital devices, like smartphones, computers, digital cameras, flash drives
- Bank accounts, PayPal accounts, credit cards
- Digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.
- Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) and blockchain domains
- Online loyalty and reward points
- Digital documents, photographs, music, videos, e-books, cloud storage accounts
- Websites, mobile phone apps, data on mobile phone apps
- Domain names, intellectual property, trademark
- Social media accounts, blogs, social media influencer accounts, email
- Online stores with cloud storage like Etsy, Amazon, eBay, etc.
How to Ensure Protection of Your Digital Assets?
Despite the phenomenal growth in the use and dissemination of digital material online, not everyone has created space for digital assets in their estate plans yet. Below are some steps that can ensure systematic organization and protection of your digital assets:
1. Make a List of All Your Digital Assets
Draw up an inventory of all the digital assets you own, including the complete log-in details. Gather usernames, passwords, e-mail accounts, or phone numbers linked to all the online accounts you own and store them in a secure location.
2. Decide What You Want to be Done with Digital Assets After Your Death
Having chalked up a list of your digital assets, you must write down a plan that entails what you wish should happen to each of them once you have passed on. You might want to leave digital memories to a loved one, assets with monetary value, such as a blog with affiliate income, to your children, and online business assets to your business partner. You might also want to shut down some accounts while deciding to erase some others.
3. Scrutinize the Privacy Policies
Go through the terms of agreement and privacy policies of your online accounts, social media handles, websites, and phone apps diligently. Acquaint yourself with site rules in case of a user’s death, and conditions that govern your representative’s powers after you.
Often, services of online providers are non-transferable and are likely to end with the death of the original user. Most online platforms pull the plug on an account and erase all account-related information after a certain period of inactivity in an online account.
A few, however, have the provision to provide account access to a representative or nominee of the deceased person. Facebook, for one, permits the user to appoint a legacy contact who can perpetuate a memorialized account.
4. Appoint Your Digital Executor
You must nominate an individual to manage your online accounts and digital assets as per your wishes. This digital executor should be privy to all information pertaining to your accounts, to be able to manage your digital assets by converting, downloading, or destroying them, as per your wishes.
Although it is not legally binding on you to do so, it would still be prudent on your part to appoint and name the executor of your digital assets in your will.
5. Do Not Procrastinate
The unprecedented global crises we are witnessing currently have clearly shown us that nothing is certain. During such times, it is important to ensure that all your future contingency measures, including estate planning, are in place. If anything were to happen to you, your personal matters and your loved ones must be taken care of, appropriately.
A Few More Details to Consider
- Consider designating multiple digital executors, as there are multiple online platforms with a wide variety of your personal information online
- Consider making your email account accessible after your death, as it is the key to your digital asset world, linking all your online, social media, and banking activities
- Consider making your wishes legally binding, as legal backing would make it easier for your digital executor to carry out your wishes properly
Contact a Trusted Kentucky Lawyer for Your Will and Estate Plan
Digital assets are an evolving area. Therefore, the laws dealing with them are getting updated and changed rapidly. Speak to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney at John H. Ruby & Associates about the options you have right now, and how regularly you should check in to update your estate plan to be able to keep up with the changes in the laws as well as your digital assets. Call our office at (502) 895-2626 for a free consultation and start protecting your assets today.