In today’s digital era, so many aspects of our personal lives exist in the digital realm. But even though many vital records, collections and assets live exclusively on the web, many people neglect to add their digital assets to their estate plans. Without including your digital assets, your loved ones may not get access to accounts with high monetary or personal value.
What is a digital asset?
According to Forbes, a digital asset is an online record that an individual owns. Your online records can include a limitless range of online content – from your personal blog to your reward points from your favorite online retailer. When drafting your estate plan and determining which digital assets you should include, here are a few key categories you may want to consider:
- Financial accounts: Today, a vast majority of people conduct their banking online. Many major banks also partner with digital payment services like Zelle or PayPal that allow individuals to transfer money online. You should include all of these online financial accounts in your estate plan.
- Digital collections: Gone are the days of tangible photo albums, music collections or personal libraries. While digital collections don’t necessarily have much financial value, they may have significant sentimental value and be worth including in your estate plan.
- Online rewards programs: Countless companies now offer online reward programs for their clients, including cash back programs, points or discounts. These rewards can sometimes become valuable enough to warrant adding to your estate plan.
- Electronic communications: The average person has at least five social media accounts they regularly use. While your accounts and digital communications may not have any financial worth, including them in your estate will ensure you have control over what happens to them.
How to protect your digital assets
Without your permission via your will or other estate documents, your loved ones may be unable to get legal access to your essential digital accounts even if they have your password. This applies to bank accounts, social media accounts, and online reward programs.
To protect your digital assets, you’ll need to establish in your estate plan how you want them handled or distributed. Creating a list of your different online accounts and appointing a trusted person as your digital executor will ensure someone can legally oversee your accounts without running into issues.
Forgetting to include your digital assets in your estate plan could lead to unwanted consequences for your loved ones once you’re gone. Be sure to incorporate your online accounts into your estate planning to best prepare for the future.