Estate Planning: Your Digital Property Assets

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We invite you to review all of our services related to Wills, Trusts, & Estates. In this blog post, we are going to focus on how to prepare for the management of your digital property upon your passing.

Digital Property

No matter your age, health, or wealth status, it is important that you plan for the future.

Most people are familiar with traditional forms of property: real estate, stocks and bonds, bank accounts, life insurance, vehicles, personal property, etc. There are well established procedures and processes to locate it, identify value, and transfer control or ownership upon a person’s incapacity or death.

Digital property includes electronically stored data, user accounts (such as email accounts, social media accounts, and online storage accounts), virtual currency, and domain names. Chances are you own more than one of these properties.

If you have not provided a list of all the accounts, passwords, and other key information about digital property, dealing with your incapacity or death becomes more difficult for your loved ones. Unfortunately, failure to plan ahead can make it practically impossible to locate and access certain types of digital property. There is no time like the present to get your affairs in order.

Organize Your Digital Assets

As you get started, it is important not to assume your digital estate has no value - Things like frequent flyer and diner points are transferable after your death, website domains you own are potentially sellable, YouTube channel videos garnering ad revenue, and and blogs you write are a form of intellectual property that might have value.

Now, create a comprehensive list of your digital assets. Store this list somewhere safe other than your email inbox. It needs to be easily accessible (in your absence) but only by someone you trust. Next, make decisions about how you want your online life handled after your death. For example, Facebook allows a personal administrator or immediate family member to close the account or “memorialize” it. Decisions like these lead us to the final step.

Ensure That the Right People Have Access to Digital Assets

Ask your attorney about inserting provisions into your will that grant your executor the authority to access your non-financial digital assets and accounts. You can give the executor the power to close accounts, “memorialize” them, sell them, or designate a someone as a beneficiary for any revenue it is generating.

Alternatively, you may wish to grant someone besides the executor of your estate the power to manage your digital assets. This can be because the executor wouldn’t know how to manage your digital assets or simply because you prefer to have someone else do it. No matter the reason, the the choice is yours. Your attorney can draft the proper language to ensure that only the person you choose to manage your digital assets has the right to do so.

Cabanillas & Associates Can Help

Did you know we have estate planning attorneys that can help you with both your physical property and your digital assets? We recommend that you follow the steps above then bring all of your questions to your free consultation at one of our eight locations. We look forward to meeting with you.