There are many reasons to be concerned about the future, as one never knows what it will hold. Thus, the best way to prepare for the unknown is by developing an estate plan. The estate planning process causes one to considered various future scenarios and take the time to ensure one’s assets, property, future care and decision making are protected. But an estate plan is more than just writing a will that designates which heir gets what asset when you pass. It can also provide protections when it comes to your digital assets.
While the contents of your bank accounts, real property and other valuable property are commonly addressed in an estate plan, the reality is that we are living in a digital age. This means that not only documents and money have been digitized but individuals also live out their personal lives in the digital realm in the form of social media accounts.
This makes digital assets an integral part of the estate planning process. What constitutes a digital asset? In basic terms, this is any online record that an individual owns. This could be more simpler items, such as a website, blog, online rewards program, photo albums and social medial accounts. It can also contain economic accounts, such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts, stock portfolios and other financial accounts managed online.
With cloud-based systems, much of one’s digital assets are stored and live there, being accessible for years or beyond one’s lifetime. Thus, it is vital that one plans for the control of these assets and accounts. This means not only providing a designated person or persons with account information, such as username and passwords, but it could also mean designating ownership of these assets and funds.
Much like physical personal property can hold much value, whether monetary or sentimental, the same is true for digital assets. Thus, one should not overlook these assets in the estate planning process, considering how best to address with them in one’s completed estate plan.