Managing estates has never been what you might call simple, but until recently, most of what people owned was either a physical asset or money in the bank. Today, we have all kinds of assets that only exist in a digital format. Whether those digital assets are social media accounts, crypto wallets, or websites that you own or operate, they will need to be attended to when you die.
There are several ways you can protect your digital assets and make it easier for your estate attorney to follow your wishes. Here’s what you need to know.
Social Media and Personal Files
Most of us have several social media accounts and digital storage accounts that hold personal information. Ensuring that your estate attorney has access to those accounts so they can download, backup, or convert accounts according to your wishes is very important. While it may be possible for a friend, family member, or executor of your estate to get access to some of these accounts when you pass, it can take a long time and is often a very difficult process.
Digital Businesses and Financial Accounts
If you have a digital business like an e-commerce store, YouTube channel, or a digital bank account or wallet that earns or stores money, you need to treat those assets like you would any physical assets or accounts.
Not only do you need to create a list of all those digital assets, and who you want to inherit and manage them after your death, but you need to provide login information to your estate attorney, so they can make sure your wishes are upheld.
This is particularly important if you have a successful online business that generates a lot of income and has employees. Leaving this kind of digital asset unprotected is the same as not naming a beneficiary for real-world business. It can result in a lot of arguing and turbulence that would hurt your business and the people who depend on it.
Cancel Online Accounts and Recurring Payments
If you have been paying fees for online accounts and have contracts with various companies, those contracts won’t simply go away because you have died. Someone will need to let those companies know that you have passed on, and formally end the contracts.
While many online services will simply close your account if they can’t charge your payment method, some might try to claim money from your estate. An estate attorney will make sure that there is no confusion about any of your accounts – online or off. They can also ensure that any data and information you have in those accounts is exported and preserved according to your wishes.
Taking Care of Digital Loose Ends
If you do have a significant online presence and digital assets like crypto, NFTs, online businesses, and investment accounts, make sure your estate attorney knows about them, and that they are included in your will.
Keep an up-to-date spreadsheet or list of all those digital assets somewhere safe. Include all the account information and passwords and provide the executor of your will with that information so that they can distribute them according to your wishes.
The line between real-world and digital assets continues to fade. More of our lives, our businesses, and our assets are online, and if that’s the case for you, you need to make sure they’re included in your estate planning.
If you’re in Lake Mary, Florida, and you want to know more about protecting your digital assets when you die, please contact Cipparone & Cipparone. We’re always happy to provide more information if you need it.
**This blog is for general informational purposes only. Cipparone & Cipparone, P.A. does not distribute legal advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute legal or other professional advice, and no attorney-client relationship is created between the reader and Cipparone & Cipparone, P.A.Tags: Estate planning
Categorized in: Estate Planning