Digital assets and estate planning

In today’s society, most people have a significant digital footprint. From social media to payment accounts, cryptocurrency, and music libraries, there is a wide range of assets you access and enjoy each day that is not part of your traditional estate planning considerations. Traditional estate planning focuses on properties, bank accounts, and investments, with many individuals often overlooking their digital asset holdings and the obstacles that may arise following their death.

What is a digital asset?

There are different forms of digital assets, but essentially it is something you hold in the digital world, often requiring you to log in to access. Some digital assets, such as payment accounts, cryptocurrency, and NFTs, can be of monetary value. Other digital assets do not hold monetary value but include ownership of certain materials such as music and books or may have sentimental value to an individual or their loved one, such as writings, photographs, and other memories.

Common examples of digital assets that many individuals have include:

  • Social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
  • Payment accounts such as Venmo, PayPal, and Square.
  • Media files such as music, books, artwork, and other properties.
  • Photographs, videos, and documents in an online storage service.
  • Financial accounts such as cryptocurrency and NFTs.
  • Subscription services.

What happens to your digital assets after you die?

It may not often seem significant, but certain digital assets can present issues for loved ones following an individual’s death. Digital assets such as your social media accounts, your cloud storage, and your payment accounts are all things you should consider, particularly if you want specific family or individuals to access information or money you have within these accounts. Laws relating to digital assets can be confusing, and the terms you agree to when signing up for digital products can also affect if or what you may or may not transfer after you die. When consulting with an estate planning attorney, you should review your digital assets, understand your rights, and what your wishes for transferable assets might be.

What can you do to protect digital assets and access after your death?

While some individuals may want their family to have access to the funds in the payment accounts and the pictures and memories stored in a cloud, others may not want anyone to access their personal information or accounts following their death.

Sharing access may mean providing login information for financial accounts and important documents. You may also request that an attorney ensures other accounts close upon your death and are not accessed.

Regardless of your decision, it’s important to consider digital assets during estate planning so your wishes are fulfilled to your satisfaction.

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