In today's digital age, our lives are increasingly lived online. Our digital footprints include everything from social media accounts, blogs, and online photo albums, to email accounts, digital music collections, and even cryptocurrency. As a result, estate planning has expanded beyond physical assets to include these digital assets.
In this guide, we'll explore how to include digital assets in your estate planning, why it's important, and share some practical tips.
Why estate planning for digital assets is important
Digital assets hold both financial and sentimental value, making them an essential part of estate planning. For instance, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum can be worth a significant sum. On the other hand, social media profiles, blogs, and online photo albums hold precious memories.
If proper estate planning isn't done, these digital assets could be lost forever. Also, your loved ones might face legal challenges in accessing your digital assets after your death.
Legal aspects of digital assets in estate planning
Legally, the handling of digital assets after death varies widely based on the platform and the geography. For example, some social media platforms allow users to designate a legacy contact who can manage the account after the user's death. However, the legalities surrounding digital assets are still evolving and can be complex.
How to include digital assets in your estate planning
Here are some steps you can take to include digital assets in your estate planning:
Inventory your digital assets: Make a comprehensive list of all your digital assets. This should include everything from social media accounts, email accounts, digital photos, blogs, to digital currencies, and more.
Assign a digital executor: This is someone who you trust to handle your digital assets upon your death. Include this designation in your will.
Provide access: Make sure your digital executor has the necessary information to access your digital assets. This could be usernames, passwords, security questions, etc.
Leave instructions: Detail how you want each digital asset handled. You might want some assets deleted, others given to specific individuals, et cetera.
Update regularly: Digital assets change rapidly. Remember to update your digital estate plan regularly.
Challenges and solutions in estate planning with digital assets
Including digital assets in estate planning isn't without its challenges. One of the biggest is the rapid pace of change in the digital world. However, by regularly updating your estate plan and working with a knowledgeable attorney, you can overcome these challenges.
Remember, not accounting for digital assets in estate planning can lead to them being inaccessible or lost forever. By including digital assets in your estate plan, you ensure they are properly managed and that your digital legacy lives on.