What Makes up Your Digital Estate?

What Makes up Your Digital Estate?

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smart-phone

Americans are creating online data at an alarming rate, and it is increasing exponentially. Each minute of the day, online users share roughly 2.5 million pieces of content on Facebook, Tweet 2.8 million times, post 2.2 million photos on Instagram, and swipe over 400,000 times on Tinder. On top of social media, people may use a combination of other online accounts – email, financial, blogs, photo-sharing, and online data storage services.

This adds up to a large amount of “digital property” or “digital assets” for most individuals. It should, therefore, seem commonplace to include a plan for your in a Last Will & Testament to ensure this sensitive data remains secure and is managed properly after one’s death. Otherwise, this data could be vulnerable to identity thieves and hackers who target the records of approximately 2.5 million deceased individuals a year.

What is Your Digital Estate?

A person’s digital estate is made up of all the information about themselves or created by themselves that exists in digital forms, either on the internet or on some sort of electronic storage device. This article will help you better understand the many different kinds of “digital assets” you might own.

Types of Digital Property

  • Personal digital property
  • Personal digital property with monetary value
  • Digital business property

Personal Digital Property

Your personal digital property includes any information or data that you store electronically – online, on the cloud, or on external hardware. Examples include:

  • Computing hardware – computers, external hard drives, flash drives, tablets, smartphones, digital music players, digital cameras, and any other digital devices
  • Online accounts – email accounts, social media accounts, shopping accounts, photograph or video sharing platforms, video gaming accounts, online storage, websites or blogs you manage
  • Intellectual property – copyrighted materials and trademarked items

Personal Digital Property with Monetary Value

This is not completely separate from the list above, but includes digital property that brings in some sort of monetary value or generates revenue. Examples include:

  • Computing hardware – computers, external hard drives, flash drives, tablets, smartphones, digital music players, digital cameras, and any other digital devices of monetary value
  • Websites that generate revenue
  • Payment platforms – Paypal, Amazon Payments, Google Wallet, bank accounts, loyalty rewards programs, and accounts with credit balances in your favor

Digital Business Property

This includes digital property that is owned by a business organization, either your business or your employer. Examples include:

  • Online accounts registered to the business
  • Assets to sell on an online store – eBay, Etsy, Amazon, etc
  • Mailing lists, newsletter subscriptions, or email lists with the names of company clients
  • Client information and customer history

Other Digital Property to Manage

computer-hardware

Hardware

It is not just online data that you need to secure in order to keep your digital estate safe. There are numerous external hardware devices that can contain either valuable or sensitive data. Here are some examples and what content needs to be secured:

  • External hard drives – all contents
  • Smart phones and mobile phones – call history, text history, photographs, videos, location data, contact list, online access through applications, and other content
  • Tablets – all contents
  • Computers – all contents
  • Digital music player – personal data and online store accounts
  • Digital camera – photographs or videos
  • E-readers – personal data and online store accounts

Online Accounts

It has become common for people to have a wide variety of online accounts. Each one of these accounts likely required some sensitive data – name, age, gender, email address – in order to open it. Beyond this personal data, many of these accounts generate and host a lot more personal information about you that makes up a large portion of your digital estate and therefore, needs to be managed. Consider these digital assets:

  • Social media accounts
    • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other, including any content you shared and any correspondences you had on those platforms
  • Online communication tools
    • Skype, FaceTime, IM, iChat, WhatsApp, Line, Facebook Messenger, Gchat, and any data or conversations you have shared on those platforms
  • Email accounts
    • Any conversations or data you have shared
  • Photo and video sharing platforms
    • Instagram, Youtube, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, and others, including any content you shared, personal data in account settings, and correspondences you had
  • Websites
    • Writing or content you created, history of interactions with readers or users, and any income that was generated as a result
  • Online shopping accounts
    • Personal information stored in account settings – credit card information, address, purchase history, and credit card information or online credit you have with the company
  • Video gaming accounts
    • In-game or in-app purchase history, account information, and any in-game assets you acquired
  • Online storage accounts
    • Dropbox, Goggle Drive, and other cloud storage, including any data and information stored there
  • Loyalty programs
    • Credit cards, airlines, car rental companies, hotels, and other, including any benefits you have collected

Intellectual Property

Your digital estate can also include intellectual property that you have created whether there are physical elements or not. Intellectual property can often have monetary value or the potential for future gains. Intellectual property can include:

  • Registered trademarks
  • Copyrighted digital materials
  • Patents

Conclusion

By being aware of what digital property you own, you can begin to grasp what makes up your entire digital estate, and, as you can see from the lists above, this can include a vast web of online accounts and personal data. Although it might seem like a daunting task, it’s important to keep track of all of this sensitive online data. One day, you will have to include this information as part of your digital estate planning in order for the Executor, or Digital Executor, of your Will to have the ability to manage your digital property. Without a plan to keep this data secure, identity thieves and hackers can pose a serious threat to your digital assets and, in turn, your loved ones.

Eleanore

Eleanore

Main curator on Digitaldeathguide. Supported by a bot. Some articles may need to be weeded, don't hesitate to tell me !