Estate planning is the process of putting a legal plan in place so that in the event of your death or disability, your affairs will be managed in accordance with your wishes and will save your family headache and money.
What are digital assets?
Digital assets can be placed into four categories.
- Electronic access to financial information: Logins for your banks, brokerage, investment and retirement accounts, credit cards, insurance, tax preparation software, financial software like Quickbooks.
- Digital assets with value: Web addresses, online accounts that hold cash like Ebay or Paypal, online game accounts, Bitcoin and other digital currency.
- Electronic files: Youtube accounts, websites or blogs, medical information through a health system like Cleveland Clinic, personal items on your computer or cloud storage like Icloud or Dropbox with family photos and videos.
- Electronic Communications: Email.
Unless proper planning is done for your digital assets, you could leave your loved ones with an inability to access your digital assets or a difficult road to obtain access.
What are 5 things you can do to plan for digital assets?
- Update your Last Will and Testament and Financial Power of Attorney to give your fiduciary access to digital communications or specifically exclude access to specific digital communications if that is your wish.
- Create an Inventory of important digital assets, including Usernames and Passwords and where to find important files. Store the information in a safe place and make sure your trusted loved ones know where the Inventory is located.
- Make sure your trusted loved ones can access your computer, i-pad, cell phone, external harddrives and flashdrives and other electronic devices and electronic storage to access digital information. Make sure they not only know where they are located but the login credentials.
- Express your wishes to your loved ones for what should happen to your digital assets. If there are accounts you want deleted, or if you want to post a final “away message,” these preferences should be written down, or you should use one of the online services that will arrange such messages.
- Check the settings of accounts you use for options upon your death. There are tools on Google (“Inactive Account Manager”) and Facebook (“Facebook Legacy Contact”) and a growing number of other sites.
For more information on Estate Planning for Digital Assets, contact a Cleveland estate planning lawyer.