Digital Assets and Estate Planning: Don’t Forget This Part!
Digital assets represent a growing portion of Americans’ estates. Fewer than 40 percent of Americans have their estate plans done and even fewer take the time to arrange for their digital assets. Today’s American spends an increasing amount of time and money online leaving behind a path of information that could be very valuable. Including your digital assets in your estate plans is a necessary part of completing a quality plan.
Why Planning for Your Digital Assets is So Important
Online bank accounts or stock trading accounts could have significant account balances that could be lost without correct planning. If you regularly sell items online or earn money from other online sources, your online accounts could add up over the years. Also, other online accounts that house such assets as music files, movies, books etc. that your family treasures also can be in jeopardy of vanishing if arrangements for managing them are not made.
When you create these, the activity or lack of activity could trigger actions that you do not intend. For example, your accounts could become suspended or even deleted if you do not log in for a long period of time. What’s more is some accounts could continue to charge your credit cards for subscriptions if your account remains inactive for too long. Often our loved ones are not aware of all of our accounts or even if they are aware, will find it impossible to access the accounts that could become targets for identify theft and fraud.
What You Must Do to Plan for Digital Assets
The first thing on the list is to inventory all of your digital asset accounts. Create a list with one column of what it is, a second column of the URL for the website, a third column for your user name, and a fourth column for your password. Offer this list to your estate-planning attorney and include it in your plan. This list will only be accessed should you die or become incapacitated. Be sure to let your loved ones know that this list exists and is in safekeeping with your attorney. Also share what you would like done with the accounts after you have passed. You should preserve this list with a reliable estate-planning attorney. The list would only be accessed after you die or become incapacitated. You should also let your heirs and loved ones know that you have planned for your digital assets. Another task is to let them know what is to be done with your accounts once you pass.
We cannot begin to know where technology will head. Just as updating your estate plan is recommended every 3 to 5 years, so should your digital assets list be updated as passwords change and new accounts are added. Find out more about the right way to plan your estate by visiting one of our free seminars. We offer them mornings, evenings and virtually. Find a date that works for you here.