Estate Planning in the Digital Age: Are You Fully Prepared?

Chances are that you have more digital assets now than you did when you created your estate plan—even if it was only a year ago. We are all acquiring new digital assets at an astonishing rate.

Do you know what will happen to those assets if you become incapacitated? What will happen after your death? Your estate plan needs to be ready to handle all of your digital assets.

What is a Digital Asset?

One reason you probably own so many digital assets is that they come in so many varieties. A digital asset is something stored in digital format. You may have some property stored on a digital device such as video stored on a computer. You probably have property you access online, such as frequent flier miles and funds in a digital bank account.

Digital assets such as cryptocurrency can literally become lost in cyberspace if you don’t have the right key. So it is essential to keep track of these assets and have a plan that allows others to access them.

Inventory Your Digital Assets

The first step to protect your digital assets is to make an inventory. List assets such as:

  • Funds in online payment systems such as Venmo, Zelle, and Paypal
  • Customer loyalty points with credit cards and shopping and travel services
  • Photo and video content
  • Assets in online savings or brokerage accounts
  • Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin
  • Intellectual property such as copyrights and patents
  • Creative property such as blog posts and websites
  • Social media accounts

Remember that many digital assets leave no paper trail whatsoever. As part of your inventory list, include records of devices or accounts where you can access these assets. For each online account, include not only user names and passwords, but also email addresses and phone numbers you use with the account, along with security questions.

Ensure Your Assets Can Pass to Others

If you have a financial power of attorney, make sure the document authorizes your agent to access online assets and accounts. Many digital asset managers have provisions enabling an account holder to name a beneficiary who can access limited information or manage your account when you pass away. You will need to check with each company for details. For digital assets on iPhones, for example, Apple developed a Legacy Contact feature that authorizes your designated contact person to manage data when the owner of the phone passes away.

Keep the detailed inventory of digital assets with your other estate planning documents. It is a good idea to update the list once a year or as you add or remember additional digital assets.

Brady Cobin Law Group PLLC Can Update Your Estate Plan

Your estate planning attorney can ensure that you have the right language in your documents to protect and preserve digital assets. At Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC, we would be happy to review your estate plan or create a new plan to meet your needs for the immediate and distant future. Contact us today to get started.