When many people think about drafting a will or creating a trust for distributing money, a house or even a business, most only consider those tangible possessions and who will receive them. That’s understandable as estate plans almost always comprised only property and financial assets.
However, many vital parts of our lives are contained in digital assets, existing online or stored on a hard drive, such as social media accounts, personal photos and accounts where we manage our banking, retirement funds and investments.
Defining digital assets
Regardless of age, we store most of our lives in the digital realm. A digital asset includes any online record belonging to you, such as:
- Financial accounts: Most banks allow customers to do business online nowadays, while more people are using payment systems, such as PayPal and Venmo, to receive and transfer funds. Include all these accounts in an estate plan.
- Social media: While a person’s Facebook or Twitter account may not be worth any money, it’s essential that these assets are included so someone you trust can manage them as you wish after your death. Most people have five social media accounts that they use regularly.
- Online rewards: Rewards programs can be extremely valuable after a person accrues points, cashback or discounts over many years. These assets often go unredeemed when left out of an estate plan.
- Digital collections: Photos may not have any monetary value, but they usually have a great deal of sentimental worth. In addition to treasured family pictures, these can include music or video files.
Include vital information for accessing digital accounts
Failing to include these items in your estate plan could have serious personal and financial consequences for you and your family. Just as crucial is including a complete list of all your accounts with usernames, passwords and other necessary information to access them.
Leaving this data out can create avoidable headaches for your family and loved ones. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you put together a plan to suit your needs to ensure that your digital assets receive proper care in the future.