If you have taken the time to create a will or any other instrument of estate planning, you are already better off than more than half of American adults. When drafting a will, most people consider most of their physical belongings along with investments or savings kept in the bank or at other financial institutions. Digital assets, however, often go overlooked, as many people do not even remember that they exist when they sit down to develop their estate plans. Some may not even know what digital assets are.
What Are Digital Assets?
Do you have a library of e-books from Amazon? What about a collection of songs from iTunes or apps from Google Play? These are some of the most common examples of digital assets. With the advancement of online technology, there are more types of digital assets today than ever before. In addition to e-books, programs, and music, digital assets also include pictures, data, visual designs, artwork, and online accounts for gaming, entertainment, and social media. If you have even one these types of assets—and since you are reading a blog right now, you probably do—it is important to develop a plan for dealing with them after your death.
Make a List
The first thing you should do is to create an inventory of all of your digital accounts, subscriptions, and assets. Be sure to include how to access each of them along with usernames, passwords, and security questions. You should also list any accounts that are setup for automatic payments, including credit cards, utilities, and any other bills that are paid online. This list can then be included in your estate plan and given directly to your chosen executor.
Make Advance Decisions
Once you know what you have, you can start to think about what should be done with your digital assets. Depending on the asset, there may be rules in place for what will happen to them upon your death. Songs and movies downloaded from iTunes, for example, may be transferred to surviving family member, but Apple does not guarantee that transfers will always be allowed. Similarly, social media sites offer different options for your account following your death, so be sure to review them and decide which is best for you. All such decisions should also be included in your estate plan.
We Can Help
If you have questions about what constitutes a digital asset and how to provide such assets in your estate plan, contact an experienced Lombard estate planning attorney. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation at A. Traub & Associates today.