You may be wondering, what are digital assets? More importantly, why should I care? Nowadays, you likely have them all over the place. If you are reading this post, chances are you already have an extensive digital life online.
Some examples of digital assets include: Email accounts; pictures; webpages; blogs; online storage accounts; social network accounts; smartphones; cellphones; tablets; desktops; laptops; domain names and other information that was stored, created, sent, communicated or generated by electronic means. This definition is a just a summary of what digital assets are. If you think for a second, you can probably come up with at least two to three more without even blinking an eye.
What are they worth? This question is key to how you should address these assets. Think about those old family pictures you have scanned into your computer. What about those Throw Back Thursday favorites shared on social media or pictures of your kids little league games on your phone?
Those tunes you downloaded are probably worth a pretty penny after years of paying for those chart topping musical hits. If you are a music lover your collection could easily be worth thousands of dollars. You do the math.
1. Make a List
List all the digital assets you have and provide that information to a trusted individual. Use extreme caution when selecting individuals to handle such sensitive information.
2. Gather Information
Compile all usernames, passwords and other required account information. Make updates to your list regularly as passwords may be changed frequently.
Do not keep secrets from a trusted individual. They should be made aware of pertinent information to handle your online life in case you are incapacitated or unable to take care of things for yourself.
4. Consider Other Assets
Financial accounts with banks, lenders, credit unions and money management firms should also be considered part of your digital assets.
5. Stay Current
Pay attention to automatic payments that are debited on a recurring basis. Do not forget about the insurance policies that you may have through your bank. Some banks now only exist online. No longer are brick and mortar buildings necessary to make payments, transfers and transact business with your bank.
What ideas do you have in mind for your digital assets if you become incapacitated or are unable to handle your business matters? Who would you like to have the authority to assess control, continue, distribute or dispose of your digital assets upon your death?
Does your Social Media account let you have a Legacy Contact – Facebook does and a few others have similar options. Facebook sends out reminders to those who have set up a Legacy Contact. Check your settings and terms for more information.
Get an Estate plan and include your digital assets (Will, Durable Power of attorney, Advance Medical Directive w/ Living Will). You may need more documents – such as a trust, deed and beneficiary designations to name a few. Digital assets are here to stay. Thus, making plans for them is imperative.
The information in this post is intended for informational purposes only and not to provide legal advice. Consult with an estate planning attorney about your particular situation.
This post was originally posted on LinkedIn on June 18, 2014, and was updated on this blog on August 3, 2017.
Aquanetta J. Betts is an attorney and speaker. She is licensed in Washington D.C., and Maryland. Her practice focuses on the areas of wills, trusts, estates and planned giving. Connect with her on Twitter @AquanettaBetts.
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