Does your estate plan address digital assets?

We live in a world where technology continues to advance and our population evolves with the new technology. Years ago, you probably never imagined that you would be so reliant on your cellphone or tablet for staying connected to your family, friends and even co-workers. However, times have changed and the online world has become a part of our daily lives whether we like it or not. 

Due to the role technology plays in our lives, it is important to address digital assets in your estate plan. Most people have some digital assets that should be included in their estate plan to help their loved ones know what to do with their possessions after you pass away. Unfortunately, many people fail to include digital assets in their estate plan, which can make life very difficult for their loved ones.

When your heirs don’t have knowledge or access to your digital assets, it can be difficult for your loved ones to retrieve online financial accounts, photos and documents. Even if your family knows about your accounts and has the passwords, they may not legally be able to access the accounts depending on the privacy agreements with each company. 

This is why you need to address digital assets in your estate plan now before it’s too late. Digital assets can include online financial accounts, social media accounts, photos, website domains, music accounts like iTunes, stock accounts and a variety of other accounts. 

If you want to include digital assets in your estate plan, you should put instructions on how to access them and what to do with your digital assets in your will or other estate planning document. You may want to store your passwords in a different location and not in your estate plan. You can also designate an executor for managing your digital assets, which can include specific instructions on what to do with each account. 

Every estate plan is different and every person has a unique set of circumstances to consider when creating an estate plan. Individuals should contact an estate planning attorney to discuss their specific issues. 

Source: USA Today, “Estate plan should pass down digital heirlooms,” Sue Doerfler, April 17, 2014