Today, so much of people’s lives take place in the digital realm. But regardless of how much time you spend in front of the screen, there’s a good chance you haven’t given much thought to what will happen to your online assets when you’re no longer around to login. It’s crucial to incorporate your digital life into your estate planning to avoid losing things of significant monetary or sentimental value. Here’s everything you need to know about including your digital assets in your estate.
Understanding digital assets
Put simply, digital assets are essentially anything that’s not on paper that you must access digitally. They can range from complicated things like cryptocurrencies and domain names to simple things like your email, photos, or credit card reward points. You’ll want to create an inventory of all of the digital assets you own and what you would like to happen to them when you’re gone. You’ll also want to include any account numbers, usernames or passwords needed for your family to access your data.
Common digital assets people have can include:
- Email and social media accounts
- Online banking accounts
- Credit card accounts
- Photo and videos stored online
- Subscription services and shopping accounts
- Websites, blogs or online stores you manage
- Smartphone, tablet, computer or cloud data
Preparing your digital estate plan
Once you have your list of digital assets and instructions for accessing them, your next step will be creating instructions for how your loved ones should handle them after you pass on. You might consider:
- Naming a separate executor: The executor to your digital estate can be the same person as the executor to your will or someone separate. You might choose to name a specific person as your digital executor if you have particular privacy wishes or a computer-savvy relative you trust more with your accounts.
- List your intentions: It’s a good idea to outline your wishes for each digital asset or account you own. For example, would you prefer to have someone delete your social media accounts right away, or memorialize them? Do you have any digital assets that generate revenue that you need someone to manage?
- Store your plan in a safe place: Your digital estate plan will contain a lot of sensitive information, so you’ll want to ensure you store it in a safe place once you create it. You’ll also want to make sure your executor or a trusted person knows how to access your plan when the time comes.
Digital assets have become increasingly important to people’s legacies. By including your digital assets in your estate plan, you can ensure no crucial memories or finances are lost.