There’s an entire group of commonly overlooked legacy to consider – digital assets. Don’t worry if you didn’t consider these assets when made your will or trust – it’s common and, luckily, easy to correct.
What are digital assets? They include:
- your photos (yes, all those selfies are a digital asset),
- files stored in the cloud or on your local computer,
- virtual currency accounts,
- social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
- device backups,
- digital business documents, and
- because technology is ever-evolving, much more will be added as the months and years go by.
These assets can have real value, such as virtual currency accounts, a URL, or digital business assets. So, you can no longer adopt a wait-and-see approach for these assets. Whether you proactively plan or not, your legacy now includes more than the inheritance you want to pass along, your family heirlooms, and general assets. You must now consider your digital assets.
So, here are 3 tips to start you.
Inventory your digital assets.
List every online account you use. If you run a business, don’t forget spreadsheets, digital records, client files, databases, and other digital business documents, although those should probably be part of your business succession plan. If it exists in cyberspace, connects to it or pertains to it, put it on the list for your attorney and executor.
Designate a cyber successor.
A cyber successor is someone you trust who can use your accounts and do business on your behalf after you are gone or if you are incapacitated. Make sure they can use your accounts promptly. Safeguard your list, so it doesn’t end up being vulnerable to unauthorized access, identity theft, data loss, or worse.
Determine the documents for your estate, and make a record of your wishes.
Put some of your digital assets into a trust or even include specific access in a power of attorney. Consult with an estate planning attorney to decide the best way to decide your successors, trustees, and beneficiaries, and then make sure the right documents or designations are in place so access can be made when it’s needed. The laws in this arena are evolving, so any planning you’ve done in the past probably needs an update.
Potential Pitfalls of Cyber Estate Planning
The worst thing you can do is nothing. This could cause the loss of digital family photo albums, disruption of your business if you’re incapacitated, or worse. If this process feels daunting or you’re still not sure where or how to start, call us. We can help you find, track, and protect your digital assets to give you peace of mind.
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