Many people now access and store important financial and personal information electronically. In addition to your online financial assets, you may also have social media, email, cloud storage and other types of accounts that your loved ones will need to access in the event of your incapacitation or passing. Overlooking digital assets can lead to problems for your beneficiaries, so it is important to include them in your estate plan. A wills and estate attorney can help you take a thorough inventory of your digital assets and create legal documents that specify who is authorized to access them.
Create a Comprehensive List
The first thing you want to do is create a list of your digital assets and their value. You should include a list of login and password information for all the accounts that will need to be accessed. Some important items to consider include:
- Domain names
- Cloud storage websites
- Monetized video channels and social media accounts
- Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency accounts
- Online trading accounts
- Online gambling accounts
- Traditional bank accounts and sites such as PayPal and Venmo
- Digital auction sites
- Digital rights to literary, musical, motion picture or theatrical works
- Online gaming accounts that provide cash awards or online goods or services
- Non-fungible tokens
- Any other digital assets specific to your circumstances
Back Up Your Data
Saving digital backups of account information and passwords is critical. It’s also a good idea to scan and save items like birth certificates, tax returns, insurance policies, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, bank and investment account statements and other vital documents. Although it’s a good idea to keep important data in the cloud, it’s vital to back it up using an external hard drive, USB port or computer as well. This will make it easier for your loved ones and fiduciaries to access them if needed.
Have Your Attorney Update Your Estate Plan
An estate planning attorney can help you create documents that inventory your digital assets and provide consent so named agents can access them if you become incapacitated or pass away. Whether you have digital assets or not, it is a good idea to review and update your estate plan periodically. Estate planning lawyers and trusts attorneys can also ensure your will, powers of attorney, trusts and other important documents are up to date.
Your lawyer will also know how to use proper language for giving lawful consent to companies to provide the contents of your electronic communications to designated parties. It is up to you to decide how much access you are comfortable with and who you want to give it to. It is also important to authorize fiduciaries or other parties to reset, bypass or recover your passwords. If you have significant digital assets, you may also want to choose an executor who is tech-savvy, which can help make the process of settling your estate run more smoothly.
Whether you need help with estate planning or you are concerned about protecting your business, our team includes experienced contract lawyers and business succession planning attorneys. No matter what type of legal issues you may be facing, we can help.