Estate planning can be far more complex than you’d originally bargained for. There are loads of intricacies in the handling of all financial matters, and we’re still just speaking of before the law gets involved. Organizing your estate mostly comes down to consolidating accounts and organizing your affairs, this can become more complex in the modern era. At this point in time, we’ve managed to translate most financial activities and information online, however, there are some things that might have gotten lost in that shuffle. If you’re not very tech-savvy, it’s even easier to lose track of all the things you’ll need to document in order to ensure a clean-cut estate plan that won’t cause much trouble in the courts or for your beneficiaries. Knowing what your digital assets are or could be will protect you and your family from creating an incomplete and flawed estate plan.
Potential Digital Assets
In order to properly wrangle your digital assets, you’ll need to get a hold on what might be locked up as a digital asset, rather than a physical asset. Digital assets can actually be anything online, from your social media account to your photographs stored in the cloud. Those are, surprisingly, assets that you’ll have to detail in the will. Thanks to most types of information now being online, all the family photo albums that most people would include in their will are now online, so, you’ll have to select someone to distribute those assets.
There’s also a selection of more straight forward online assets that you’ll need to compile login information for as well so that it can be distributed easily when the time comes. Online bank accounts and investment accounts should be included in this list, obviously, but you should also document any assets you have from virtual currency trading. Be sure to compile your credit card rewards and credit card login information as well. You’ll have to close those accounts down when you’re gone, but there’s no reason that your rewards shouldn’t be used.
Any and all important documents you have saved on the cloud or a hard drive should be documented. Tell the beneficiaries where to find this information on your computer, and don’t forget to provide login information for them as well. You’ll need to do this for everything you have online, in fact. For example, if you have a website or blog you operate that generates revenue, you’ll need to include that. You’ll also need to include email accounts, digital copyrights, and digital trademarks.
How to Make This Easier
The best way to make restoring and collecting all of your digital assets easier is just to go through and write them all down now. That way, it can be easy to comb-through a list of all assets that your beneficiaries will need to consolidate in the event of your passing. You can design a digital estate plan within your regular estate plan to help them track down passwords and access the legal standing they need in order to take your digital assets as they’re own. This also ensures that all of your royalty rights or other digital income streams are protected by law and potentially by a trust if that’s the decision you make for your estate.
Why It’s Necessary
As you’ve likely guessed, digital estate planning is a pretty new concept. There are laws governing online assets now, and that means that you have to be prepared to set your beneficiaries up to be within the guidelines of those laws. While these laws exist on a federal level in most capacities, some states don’t yet have these laws in place. Thus, if you were to pass the digital assets would actually go to the site controlling those digital assets. For example, if you have a monetized blog that you don’t detail in your final will as going to your beneficiaries, then WordPress or the site hosting the blog will start to accept those profits instead. This can also protect you from accidentally locking your heirs out of your accounts. There’s a federal law that mostly upholds that sites can’t give you login information for an account without the explicit consent of the owner. If you don’t provide that explicit consent in the form of your estate plan, those assets will never be able to be recovered, and while that’s only a small inconvenience in the terms of your Facebook account, that could be really bad if it’s your online currency trading account that they get locked out of instead.
How to Get Started
You’ll have to outline where everything is and keep detailed instructions on how to access it, especially if you’re a bit more tech-savvy than those you’re leaving your estate to. Setting up a good digital asset estate plan starts with a few simple steps:
- Create an inventory of your all digital assets and logins.
- Determine who will manage these assets (estate executor or a family member).
- Set up the estate guidelines
The key part of ensuring you’ll be able to access a great digital estate plan is first having a great estate plan. Creating an indisputable estate plan and protecting your beneficiaries from further inconvenience while they’re grieving is one of the kindest and most thoughtful things you can do for them. Most people put off setting up an estate plan until they’re older, but it’s crucial to have one in place as soon as you start accumulating serious assets with considerable value.
If you’re ready to get started on the estate plan you need to ensure the safety and comfort of your family’s future, reach out to us today. Goldberg & Associates specializes in estate planning in the Atlanta area. We have considerable experience, so whatever you’re looking for an answer to, we’ll have it. Schedule an appointment today.