As digital presence of an individual continues to grow, the question of the digital assets estate planning is starting to emerge.
There are obvious reasons why individual digital presence is growing: popularity of the internet and web, convenience, cost-benefit, etc. Similarly, for many individuals, digital assets portfolio is raising in complexity and quantity. This comes as no surprise, since many modern-life activities are managed and stored online:
Types of Digital Assets
- email accounts
- financial accounts
- social media accounts
- investments accounts
- medical accounts
- credit cards accounts
As more people acquire digital assets, the next question that we have to consider is: what happens to your online presence if you were to die?
The field of the estate planning of digital assets is emerging, and handling of the online presence is increasingly becoming a part of the ‘traditional’ estate and succession planning.
Steps to Manage Digital Assets
Create an inventory of your digital assets including all accounts that you manage online. Make instructions how to access them—chances are, many of those accounts are password-protected, so the management of passwords and logins is essential. You may also want to document and record all the information that is required to access your digital assets. Next, decide how you want those assets to be handled. Think whether you want to save your digital assets, transfer or maybe delete? Finally, name a person who will be in charge of your digital assets, and more importantly, let that person actually know about your plans.
Making a reference in your will about your digital assets is a good idea, but online accounts and their password should not be included in the will. The reason is simple: when you die, your will becomes a public document.
Basic planning concepts listed above are just the first steps that one should undertake in managing her or his digital assets. For more specific help on how to incorporate your digital estate plan into a legally binding document, you are advised to rely on a qualified estate planner. Visit the Schneider Downs Estate Planning Services page to learn about services that we can offer.