Estate Planning 101: Don’t Forget About Your Digital Assets


We found a story in the USA Today that discusses the critical role digital assets play in modern estate planning.
As we’ve reported, most people understand an estate plan will distribute physical property like a home or automobile, but few understand the growing need to account for intangible property like digital assets in a modern estate plan.

With nearly every American actively using the Internet today, everyone has a vast array of digital assets that must be accounted for. “Digital assets hold both financial and sentimental value to family and friends that should be addressed in the estate planning and administration process,” said James Lamm, an estate planning and tax attorney.

“The first challenge is accounting for a person’s digital property and identifying which digital property is valuable or significant,” said Lamm. “Additional obstacles you don’t have with traditional property are passwords, encryption, computer crime laws, and data privacy laws. Any one of them can make it practically impossible to do anything with the digital property unless you’ve planned ahead.”

Here are some essential steps that will help you account for all your digital assets.

Put It In Legal Writing – “Include all of your digital asset information in a Will or Trust and designate a fiduciary (or executor) to fulfill your wishes. Include a provision in your estate plan that grants your executor access to all your online accounts.”

Take A Full Inventory – “Account for all the usernames and passwords for all your electronic devices, bank accounts, utility accounts, email accounts, insurance plans, and any other significant online account you use. Do not include your usernames and passwords in your Will or Trust.”

Store Passwords Somewhere Safe – “Since Wills becomes public information, yours should not include your usernames or passwords. Leave instructions in your estate plan on how to find them, like in a safe deposit box.”

Account For Sensitive Information – “If there’s information you do not want disclosed to family and friends, you need to provide instructions in your estate plan on how that information should be handled.”

Include Social Media Information – “Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should be included in your digital assets list. Loved ones must know your passwords before companies like Facebook will memorialize your profile or remove it.”

Read the story here.





Leave a Reply