While many people emphasize physical assets like property or treasured family heirlooms when planning their estate, the extensive reach of technology in our daily lives necessitates careful consideration of digital assets, as well. Estate planning allows you to retain full control of how your assets will be protected, managed, and administered to the individuals you choose. As technology influences almost every aspect of our lives, properly planning your estate should include all your assets, even those that reside solely on your computer or online.
Digital assets are necessary to include in estate planning. Whether you are a new entrepreneur or have an estate from generational income, it’s important to take steps now to ensure the future preservation of these assets. Make sure your wishes will be carried out by hiring the expert estate lawyers at Huber Law Group. Our decades of experience helping Sacramento residents plan their estate means you will receive the highest quality of representation that will safeguard your wishes in the most difficult circumstances.
What Are Digital Assets?
Even though they are consistently becoming more meaningful components of people’s estates, a vast majority of individuals of all ages neglect to recognize the importance of involving digital assets in their estate planning. Digital assets are defined as anything valuable that only exists on digital devices or within cloud-based digital storage accounts. This consists of files on your computer, as well as any online accounts or information that is accessed using the internet.
Digital assets include digital photos, videos, and music files, electronic books, apps, online subscriptions and medical records, emails, social media accounts, cryptocurrency, intellectual property, and artworks or manuscripts that you create and store digitally. Any assets you purchase or create online are considered digital assets. They should be properly organized and cataloged to ensure they are accessible to the right individuals in the event of death or incapacitation. Online banking and brokerage accounts are not considered digital assets.
Why Do You Need to Include Digital Assets in Estate Planning?
Various reasons exist for planning an estate, such as preserving a family inheritance, providing financial support for remaining spouses and children, ensuring the funding of education for children and grandchildren, or donating a legacy to a charitable cause or institution. Estate planning allows you to safeguard the wealth you have spent a lifetime accumulating. It is vital for not only preserving your wishes after death but also if you may become incapacitated and unable to legally make these decisions.
Because it is such a significant responsibility, you should make sure you consider every circumstance and include all types of assets in estate planning. In previous generations, bequeathing your assets to loved ones was a simpler task. If you wanted to leave behind a valuable record collection or classic car, you would mention that in your will. But what if your albums are digital, or all of your family photos are stored online? Decades of memories would be gone in an instant with very little hope of recovery.
Today, the digital world’s prevalence in our lives means proper estate planning must include the management of your digital assets. You may think you can give your passwords to your loved ones to allow them access to your digital assets, but legally documenting your wishes is necessary, especially if there is any possibility of contention in the family. Some companies actually make it illegal to provide your account information to others, meaning they will not be required to provide access to your digital assets without proper estate planning.
How to Incorporate Digital Assets When Planning Your Estate
Your digital life is likely much more extensive than you realize. Take the following steps to ensure your digital assets are appropriately preserved and distributed:
Step One. Develop a Thorough Digital Assets Inventory
Develop a digital assets inventory comprised of any files stored on your computer or stored online and password protected. This inventory should include all the types of digital assets listed above, along with any other online services you use. List the account or asset name and web address with an account number, as well as the full name associated with the account.
Step Two. Construct a Digital Vault
You can collect and organize a digital vault, a service or website that allows you to store important documents, including your will, mortgage paperwork, medical bills, copies of personal identification, and a variety of other digital assets. Assembling everything in one place makes it much easier for your loved ones to access and allows for easier planning.
Step Three. Decide Who Will Have Access to Your Information
You may want only the executor of your estate to have full access to your digital assets, or you may choose to provide additional individuals with the ability to see and manage your accounts. Using your digital asset inventory, you can create more limited inventories for each person and provide them with the appropriate credentials.
Do Not Delay in Planning Your Estate – Contact an Experienced Estate Lawyer Today
You may feel this is a task you can put off until a later date, but life often delivers unexpected circumstances that can make you wish you had taken a proactive stance in estate planning. If your estate plan does not include arrangements for your collection of digital assets, it is insufficient for your needs. Contact Huber Law Group today by calling (916) 603-2515 or visiting our website.