Digital assets were probably not included in your parents’ estate plans. If you last reviewed your plan more than ten years ago, they might not be mentioned there either. But they should be.
Your digital assets include everything of yours that lives online, on your hard drive or a cloud server. These items range from investments in cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to your social media accounts, digital photos, videos and audio recordings, any website domains you own, and documents like music, literary and theatrical works.
Some of these can be worth a lot of money. Others mostly have sentimental value. But if you do not provide access to them in your estate plan or explain who should inherit them, you could make things difficult for the executor of your estate and your loved ones. Company policies, along with laws dealing with data privacy and even criminal statutes, make it very complicated for someone other than the account holder to access many online accounts after the holder has passed away.
Making sure your digital assets get passed on the way you wish
Fortunately, you can take fairly simple steps now to prevent frustration and disappointment later. These steps include:
- Make a list of all your digital assets and online accounts. Include the usernames and passwords to access them. Store this list in a secure place.
- Back up all data stored in the cloud.
- Update your will, trust and power of attorney document to authorize the executor, trustee or power of attorney to access your digital assets.
The laws related to probating digital assets are relatively new and could change over the next several years. Even after you and your estate planning lawyer have amended your plan to include your digital assets, it is always smart to review your plan every few years to see what might be out of date.