In today's digital age, our online presence is becoming increasingly important. From social media accounts to online banking and digital assets, it is crucial to include these in your estate planning. This blog aims to provide you with tangible and useful tips to securely manage your online presence and navigate the complexities of estate planning for digital assets.
Understanding Digital Assets
Digital assets encompass a wide range of online accounts, files, and data that hold both financial and sentimental value. Here are some common types of digital assets to consider:
Financial Accounts: This includes bank accounts, investment portfolios, and cryptocurrencies stored in online wallets.
Social Media: Your social media accounts, blogs, and websites may have significant personal and even business value.
Email and Communications: Emails often contain important information, and online communication platforms like WhatsApp and Skype may hold sentimental messages.
Digital Media: This category includes digital photos, videos, music libraries, and e-books.
Online Subscriptions: Streaming services, magazine subscriptions, and software licenses can all represent considerable assets.
Domain Names: If you own domain names, they have a financial value and may be linked to online businesses.
Cloud Storage: Files and documents stored on cloud platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox are also digital assets.
Creating a Digital Inventory
To effectively manage your digital assets during estate planning, start by creating a comprehensive digital inventory. Here's how:
List Your Accounts: Make a list of all your online accounts, including usernames and passwords. Ensure this list is kept in a secure location, and consider using a password manager.
Document Your Assets: Detail what each account holds, such as bank balances, investments, and the contents of your digital media libraries.
Include Access Information: For assets with access codes or encryption keys, be sure to document those details as well.
Identify Digital Businesses: If you have online businesses or domain names, specify their value and any associated contracts.
Designate Beneficiaries: Determine who you want to inherit each digital asset, and document this in your inventory.
Appointing a Digital Executor
Just as you would appoint an executor for your physical estate, you should designate a digital executor to manage your digital assets. This individual should be tech-savvy and responsible enough to handle your online presence according to your wishes. Here's what they should do:
Access to Your Inventory: Your digital executor should have access to your digital inventory and understand your wishes regarding each asset.
Legal Authority: Ensure that your digital executor has the legal authority to manage your digital assets. This may require updating your will or creating a separate document.
Security Measures: Provide instructions on how to access your accounts securely, including any two-factor authentication methods.
Asset Distribution: Your digital executor should distribute digital assets according to your instructions, whether that involves transferring ownership or deleting accounts.
Securing Your Digital Assets
Securing your digital assets is crucial to prevent unauthorized access and potential loss. Consider the following security measures:
Strong Passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for each online account, and regularly update them.
Two-Factor Authentication: Enable two-factor authentication wherever possible to add an extra layer of security.
Data Encryption: Encrypt sensitive files and data to protect them from unauthorized access.
Backup Regularly: Create backups of important files and documents and store them securely.
Trustworthy Contacts: Provide access and recovery information to trusted individuals who can help in case of emergency.
Communicating Your Wishes
Lastly, it's essential to communicate your wishes regarding your digital assets to your loved ones and your digital executor. Here's how:
Inform Your Executor: Ensure your digital executor knows about their role and responsibilities.
Discuss with Family: Talk to your family and beneficiaries about your digital assets and how they should be handled after your passing.
Update Your Will: Include specific provisions for your digital assets in your will or create a separate digital assets document.
Online Platform Policies: Familiarize yourself with the policies of online platforms regarding the transfer or closure of accounts after death. Some platforms have specific procedures for this.
Managing your online presence and digital assets is a complex task that requires careful planning and consideration. By following the tips provided in this blog, you can ensure that your digital assets are securely managed and included in your estate plan.
At Vernon Litigation Group, we understand the intricacies of estate planning and digital assets, and are here to assist you in navigating this evolving landscape. Contact us today to learn more about what our skilled estate planning attorneys can do for you.