When you pass away, your digital assets are not like any other kind of property. They’re not tangible, and they might be all over the place. You might have emails on your computer, photos on Facebook or Flickr, or videos on YouTube. You may also have a lot of data stored in the cloud. So when it comes to estate planning, what should you do?
Estate planning doesn’t just cover your physical possessions but also your digital ones. It is important to plan ahead for what will happen to your digital assets after you pass. You can give someone access to your social media pages, email, and other online services so they can maintain them.
But it’s important to take additional steps to ensure the safety and security of your properties. In this discussion, we’ll go over a few basics of digital assets and estate planning so you can decide what steps to take for yourself and your loved ones.
What Are Digital Assets?
Digital assets are any digital files, content, or data. They can be video, audio, records of transactions, and so on. Essentially, a digital asset is any piece of information that you create, store, or share digitally. These assets could be anything from a photo that you take on your phone to a file stored on your computer. Today, many digital assets are stored in the cloud so that they can be easily shared and accessed from different devices.
Basic Estate Planning Tips
This is a subject that many people don’t think about until they experience a tragedy. The truth is, however, you might not know what your loved ones will do with your digital assets after you’ve passed away. The first thing to do is make sure you have a will or trust in place. Your will or trust should include provisions for the distribution of your digital assets and how to access them once you’ve passed away.
Since digital assets can be anything from photos and videos on social media platforms to emails and contact lists stored on one’s computer, it’s necessary and even essential to have plans in place for what happens to these assets when you die.
For most businesses, these assets are often important and need to be considered as part of estate planning. But the same holds true for individuals, as your digital assets may contain sensitive information that you don’t want the general public to have access to.
Many people keep their digital assets scattered across several different accounts such as Facebook, Google+, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube, or iCloud, for example. It’s also possible that some data was created outside of those accounts, such as email messages stored within an Outlook account or files stored in Dropbox.
Consider all of the digital assets you have. Is it your wish that these assets remain private or in the control of loved ones? Then it’s best to contact an estate planning attorney to assist you in securing your future.
Steps for Estate Planning
One of the most important things you can do is create a will or trust that lays out what happens to your digital assets if you die. Your will should designate someone to handle your online accounts, services, and devices.
If you don’t have a will or trust, then your digital assets will be distributed according to the state where you live. You can find specific rules for this in your state’s laws. If you’re unsure what your state dictates when you die without a will, speak with an estate planning attorney for guidance. Moreover, your state’s laws may not cover all of the issues surrounding digital assets, so it’s best to come up with your own plan with the help of your attorney.
Many people think about their physical property when they think about estate planning. But it’s also important to think about what you’ll leave behind in the digital world, too. It’s easy to forget that all those emails and photos are important parts of our lives that can be shared with family members and friends after we’re gone.
Be sure to consider these two questions: What would happen if I died tomorrow? What would I want my loved ones to know about my life that currently remains protected by digital assets?
Call Doane & Doane for Estate Planning with Digital Assets
Doane & Doane is your trusted authority on estate planning and digital assets. Whether you need to establish a will or trust or get started planning your estate and assets, you can count on our estate planning attorney to help you through each process. So contact Doane & Doane today if you’re ready to arrange a consultation. You can reach us at 561-656-0200 or by filling out our contact form.
The information in this blog post is for reference only and not legal advice. As such, you should not decide whether to contact a lawyer based on the information in this blog post. Moreover, there is no lawyer-client relationship resulting from this blog post, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you need legal counsel, please consult a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.