Estate Planning & Digital Assets

Estate planning continues to evolve. Traditionally, assets left to children after someone’s death usually consisted of a home, vehicles, and financial accounts such as bank accounts and retirement funds. Today’s blog from Davidson Law Group explains how to handle digital assets for estate planning. 

Related Post: Estate Planning Attorney Advice: Leaving Digital Assets in Your Will

What Is a Digital Asset?

A digital asset is an online account, document, or property in a person’s estate. This may include things like a website, blog, email address, social media account, photos, or videos. These kinds of digital assets may have sentimental value, monetary value, or both.

Many financial assets are managed entirely online, as opposed to traditional banking at a brick and mortar location. Checking and savings accounts may have online access. Credit cards and debts are also handled online. Trading stocks, shopping rewards programs, gift cards, stock portfolios, and brokerage accounts are all in digital formats. 

Digital Assets to Secure in Estate Planning Documents

Pay attention to financial accounts, online rewards programs, electronic communications, and digital collections for estate planning. 

  • Financial accounts are more than just banks. Take a look at third-party payment systems such as PayPal. Cryptocurrency, while volatile, is also something to consider among digital assets.
  • Rewards programs may add value over years and decades of shopping. These may derive some financial benefits to your heirs as you build up a loyalty program over time. If you can get a $100 shopping credit for being a loyal customer, you might consider that digital asset as something to pass to someone else.
  • Electronic communications often have personal information stored in them. Although they may not yield any monetary worth, you want to make sure to protect yourself from any cybersecurity issues posed by dormant accounts that may expose someone’s private information.
  • Digital collections, such as uploaded photos or videos, probably won’t have monetary value. However, the sentimental value is definitely one reason why you want to save these for your loved ones.

How to Protect Your Digital Assets in Estate Planning

First, make sure you have all of the necessary credentials to access your digital assets when forming an estate plan. If you change the username, password, or secret questions for authentication at some point, you’ll want to write those down. Rather than put this information in a will (which is a matter of public record in probate court after you die), write this information down in a letter to the executor of your will.   

Even with the right authentication information, some entities (particularly financial institutions) won’t let you access the funds without a will or estate document. This may also be true for rewards programs and even social media. Your heirs will want to have the necessary documentation ready for the financial institutions when it comes to digital assets.

Related Post: Estate Planning Attorney: Deciding How to Distribute Assets

Estate Planning for Digital Assets at Davidson Law Group

The estate planning attorneys at Davidson Law Group can help you plan for passing your digital assets to your heirs. We’ll help you come up with a customized plan that fits your needs. Contact our law firm today in Fort Worth, Allen, or Tyler if you have any questions for us.