Nowadays, most people have digital assets in some form or another, from social media followings to Bitcoin balances. Because such assets are intangible, it’s easy to overlook them when estate planning . But since they’ll ultimately be part of your legacy, it’s essential to address them when making arrangements. […]
Rikard Steiber says he started GoodTrust after his friends fell victim to COVID-19 and he saw just how hard it is for families to take control of their digital assets and memorialize them on social media. When people die today, they don’t leave behind shoeboxes of pictures. It’s a new problem of our new digital lives, waiting for a new solution. Just as we leave instructions for worship and burial, so we must now account for the vast online inventory that can be built in a lifetime.
Steiber says a private survey commissioned by the company showed 90% of U.S. adults responded that they do not know what happens to their digital assets (emails, photos, social media, online banking, sites/passwords) when they pass away. Over 150,000 people die each day. It is a trillion dollar business. Good Trust is part of wave of solutions emerging to address our “digital remains.” A recent study predicts that some 250 million people will die on Facebook in the next 20 years or more than 30,000 people per day.
“Death, wealth and possessions are as old as humanity,” said Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist, Digital Transformation and Strategy at Google. “Our digital life is a younger concept. And the digital assets there are even more valuable for your loved ones – your photos, your videos, your friendships, your story, your dreams, your accomplishments. Your entire life story in digital form.”
Steiber, a former Google and HTC Vive VR executive, says his start up uses innovative technology and in-house experts to memorialize social media accounts, secure valuable photos and videos, photos on Google Drive and on iCloud. GoodTrust is compatible with more than 100 of the most popular sites and apps, including Facebook, Google, and Apple.
GoodTrust plans start at $39.99, and their menu of services is extensive. Facebook memorializations are initially offered at no cost to first responders and their families. “COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear that we are never prepared for death and managing the digital presence of a loved one should be top of mind. Our mission at GoodTrust is to protect the digital legacy of everyone using new scalable technology,” said Steiber, who is bootstrapping the company with eight others contributing sweat equity.
The GoodTrust founding team also includes serial entrepreneur CTO Markus Thorsveldt, COO Olivia Gorajewski, CFO Christian Lagerling and other ex-Googlers like Scott Levitan, Daniel Sieberg and advisors currently at Google such as Gopi Kallayil Chief Evangelist, Digital Transformation and Strategy and Tony Fagan VP of Ads Research Engineerin
8 Documents That Are Essential to Planning Your Estate
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If you want loved ones to remember you fondly, tackle your estate-planning tasks. Your heirs will thank you for not leaving a legal mess to sort out.
Many of us want to get going on this planning, but don’t know where to start. Here’s what you should know about eight documents that can help you get your affairs in order.
If that sounds like a lot of paperwork, don’t worry: You probably won’t need every document. And if you’re wondering where to find the documents you do need, not to worry: Just head to our partner Rocket Lawyer, where you’ll find everything you need cheap.
1. Last will and testament
A will gives you the power to decide what is in the best interests of your children and pets after you’re gone. It also can help you determine what will happen to possessions with financial or sentimental value. It typically names an executor — someone who will be in charge of following your directions. Finally, you can include any funeral provisions.
Use your will to name guardians for those under your care, including minor children and pets. Designate any assets you are leaving for their care.
If you’re married, your spouse needs a separate will, AARP says.
In the absence of a will, a probate court will name an executor — typically a spouse or grown child — for your estate. Probate proceedings are a matter of public record. So keep private information — passwords, for example — out of your will, as that information could become part of a public document.
2. Revocable living trust
A living trust is another tool for passing assets to heirs while avoiding potentially expensive and time-consuming probate court proceedings.
You name a trustee — perhaps a spouse, family member or attorney — to manage your property. Unlike a will, a trust can be used to distribute property now or after your death.
If you have substantial property or wealth, a trust can provide tax savings.
ElderLawAnswers further explains the differences between trusts and wills. Creating a trust is not a do-it-yourself project. Get an attorney’s help.
3. Beneficiary designations
When you purchase life insurance or open a retirement plan or bank account, you’re often asked to name a beneficiary, which is the person you want to inherit the proceeds when you die. These designations are powerful, and they take precedence over instructions in a will.
Keep beneficiary designation papers with your estate-planning documents. Review and update them as your life changes.
4. Durable power of attorney
This document allows you to choose someone to act on your behalf, financially and legally, in the event that you can’t make decisions.
Don’t put off this chore. You must be legally competent to assign this role to someone. Older people worried about relinquishing control sometimes put off the task until they are no longer legally competent to do it.
5. Health care power of attorney and living will
To ensure that someone can make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated, establish a health care power of attorney — also called a durable health care power of attorney. This is different from the previously mentioned durable power of attorney for financial and legal affairs.
A living will lets you explain in advance of your death what types of care you do and do not want, in case you can’t communicate that in the future. It’s strictly a place to spell out your health care preferences and has no relation to a conventional will or living trust, which deals with property.
“You can use your living will to say as much or as little as you wish about the kind of health care you want to receive,” says legal site Nolo in a detailed article.
6. Provision for digital assets
Decide what to do with your digital assets, including your computer hard drive, digital photos, information stored in the cloud, and online accounts such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google and Twitter. Be sure to include a list of your passwords.
“What Happens to Your Email and Social Media After You Die?” explains how to make these decisions.
7. Letter of intent
For instructions, requests and important personal or financial information that don’t belong in your will, write a letter. Use it to convey your wishes for things you hope will be done. For example, you may have detailed instructions about how you want your funeral or memorial service to be performed.
No attorney is needed. The letter won’t carry the legal weight of a will.
8. List of important documents
Make certain your family knows where to find everything you’ve prepared. Make a list of documents, including where each is stored. Include papers for:
- Life insurance policies
- Pension or retirement accounts
- Bank accounts
- Divorce records
- Birth and adoption certificates
- Real estate deeds
- Stocks, bonds and mutual funds
Another item helpful for your heirs is a list of bills and accounts, including contact information and account numbers for each, so your representative can settle and close these accounts.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.
Whether they know it or not, your clients have digital assets: your email, your photos, all your social media accounts. What happens to those accounts when you die?
In this episode, David Lenok, senior editor at WealthManagement.com, speaks with Karin Prangley, senior vice president, private wealth management at Brown Brothers Harriman. The two dive deep into the topic of digital assets and estate planning loosely using the estate of technology legend Steve Jobs.
In this episode, you will learn:
- What is a digital asset, and how are they controlled
- When and where to use a digital executor
- Why it is not as simple as having a username and password for the deceased
- How your estate handles cryptocurrency
- And more!
Tune in now and figure out the “need-to-knows” about digital assets and your estate plan.