Digital assets need to be part of your estate planning, P.1

Planning for digital assets is an aspect of estate planning that is receiving more and more attention these days, due to the growing use of online accounts. Most people have such accounts in one form or another.  But what happens to these accounts when you die? Because these accounts can contain much value, they should be included in one’s estate planning.

 

The first step in planning for these assets is to make a list of the assets themselves and how to access them. This includes online passwords and account numbers. This inventory should be updated at least one a year, or whenever your password changes or you open a new account. 

This information should be stored in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box at a bank. They can also be given to one’s spouse or to one’s “digital executor.”

 

The latter term refers to a person designated to ensure that your requests regarding your digital assets are carried out upon your death. This person should be named in your will, and given the information necessary to access the accounts. The digital executor can be given power of attorney over the digital assets, since this may be necessary to access the accounts themselves. Those who’ve set up Google’s Inactive Account Manager or similar programs should let their digital executor know about this.

 

In our next post, we’ll talk about the importance of writing out clear instructions for what should happen with the digital assets themselves upon your death. 

Source: Source: Next Avenue, “5 Steps to Creating Your Digital Estate Plan,” Catey Hill, April 12, 2013. 

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