When you are creating an estate plan, one area you might not realize you need to address are your digital assets. More and more, people have valuable assets online or in a digital form, assets they should include in their estate plan. Those who run their own income-generating business online certainly have digital assets, but so can other entrepreneurs and everyday tech users.
But what exactly is a digital asset?
Digital asset basics
Digital assets can include any of the following:
- Online banking or investment accounts
- Virtual currencies
- Social media accounts
- Personal photographs stored in web-based cloud storage
- Photographs, videos, graphics or written work that produce income
- Credit card rewards
- Digital copyrights or trademarks
- Income-generating websites or blogs
- Website domain names
If any of your digital assets have financial value, you should include them as part of your estate plan.
Creating a plan for your digital assets
To begin creating a plan for your digital assets, first make an inventory of what exactly they are and where they are online. You also may want to include what the estimated value of each digital asset is.
Next, write instructions that give your estate executor your wishes as to how to distribute your digital assets. If you own a valuable website domain name for your business, perhaps you want that to go to your business successor. Perhaps you want your executor to cash in whatever credit card awards you have and split that between your children as part of their inheritance. You likely want your executor to shut down your social media accounts.
Of course, as with other aspects of your estate plan, your plan for your digital assets needs to be in writing. This will help protect your estate executor from being accused of identity theft or hacking as they access your digital accounts and pass on your assets to your beneficiaries.
If you want to ensure your digital assets are addressed properly in your estate plan, consult an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney can ensure your will clearly lays what your digital assets are and how your executor should distribute them among your beneficiaries.