A 2011 McAfee study found that the value of the digital assets of many Americans can reach nearly $55,000. Individuals increasingly accumulate wealth across multiple digital devices and online services. Unfortunately, a vast majority of us have not planned for what happens to these assets after we’re gone.
Estate planning for digital assets is growing as fast as technology races ahead, and involves issues of security, privacy and legacy planning. For planning purposes, digital assets can include:
- Email accounts
- Documents and files
- Websites and blogs
- Social networking accounts
- Music, movies, books, and other media
- Online shopping accounts
- Banking and bill payment accounts
Practical issues that should be considered when planning for the disposition of digital assets include:
- Who will access, control, and curate the accounts following your death
- How your executor or agent will gain access
- The transfer of your digital assets to beneficiaries (if desired)
- How fiduciaries will know where to find all the information on your digital assets
There are two steps you should take to protect your digital assets with the guidance of a Personal Family Lawyer®:
Inventory digital assets. Make a list of all your accounts and assets, including usernames and passwords, answers to security questions and any other necessary information that will allow your executor or fiduciary to access the information.
Include digital assets in your estate plan. Include enabling provisions in your estate plan that covers the management and disposition of your digital assets.
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