Digital assets include a variety of web and computerized documents and accounts, such as, social media accounts, photos, videos, websites, blogs and financial accounts.
Currently, only seven states have legal protocol for what happens to these items and accounts if their owner dies without including them in final wishes.
Digital assets are new to estate planning. Many people die without knowing they should have included these items in their plans. This makes it difficult for family members to access or delete online accounts. Depending on the site, sometimes impossible
Bill Simpson is the Founder and President of Life Document Storage
The first step you should take is to make a list of everything you access digitally or electronically. This should include anything that has a real monetary value, such as digital music, book and movie files that you purchased, as well as everything that holds significant emotional worth, such as your wedding videos, family photos, important emails, etc.
In addition, include the name and URL of every online account you access, and a brief description of the service it provides, as well as the information someone would need to login to your account. In many cases, the purpose of the site will be obvious, such as Citibank or Chase, Facebook or Flickr, but your Mortgage Company or cloud-storage provider might not be readily apparent to someone else. Remember, the purpose of compiling this list is so that someone whom you designate can serve as the executor of your online assets, so don’t assume anything will be “obvious” to him or her.
The list you have created contains highly confidential information. Take every precaution to keep it secure in order to prevent theft, whether monetary or identity, and to prevent unauthorized access.
Once you have compiled your digital-asset register from memory, update your list for at least one month (six months is better). Another reason you should refine your list for at least a month is to ensure you add the answers to any security questions you created to verify your login identities.
Most people would prefer to pass on these digital assets to their heirs. It is also important to some that they have certain online accounts they would prefer to have immediately deleted upon their passing. These are both reasons why someone should consider Digital Estate Planning as another added value to their comprehensive estate plan.