For decades, individuals and families have taken the time to explore their options to plan better for the future. Estate planning is a process that seems ancient. It does, however, change with the course of time. New investment opportunities and methods arise, and the changes to the law can give rise to new techniques to ensure that beneficiaries and their inheritances are protected. Even the definition of an asset and liability can change, redefining how we go about creating estate plans. This means that those who are thinking about their future need to ensure that they are with the times, thereby allowing themselves to obtain the holistic estate plan they need.
One area often overlooked in estate plans is digital assets. Generally speaking, digital assets include any electronic communications and digital property owned by an individual. These assets can hold significant financial and sentimental value, but accessing them isn’t always easy. Oftentimes, access to these assets is restricted by terms of service agreements, meaning that, upon one’s passing, it may become difficult or even impossible for others to obtain access to the digital content.
So what can an individual do to protect his or her digital assets? The first step is to take inventory. There may be more digital assets in one’s possession than he or she thinks. Once that is taken care of, then one should consider creating a list of usernames and passwords that can become accessible upon passing. Then, an individual needs to consider how best to leave these assets to their loved ones. This may include release of access information to one’s agent with directions on how to handle digital content. It may even direct that content to be destroyed.
Digital assets can be incredible challenging to get ahold of in a process that has been dominated by tangible assets. Failing to properly address these matters can be problematic, though, as it may result in the loss of a significant amount of information, financial value and memories. Those who want to learn more about how to protect their digital assets should think about speaking to an experienced estate planning legal team.