In the contemporary world, digital assets have evolved to become an essential component of our lives. From emails and photos to online financial portfolios, these assets play a vital role and are of significant value. However, what happens to these assets when we are no longer around? Integrating digital assets into your estate planning is a step towards ensuring that these assets are managed and passed on according to one's wishes.
A digital asset is any content owned by an individual in digital form. This can include everything from email accounts and online accounts to social media accounts and even digital photos. With the shift towards digitalization, the significance and value of these assets, be they monetary or sentimental, have grown.
It is crucial to understand that much of our lives are now online. These digital assets carry both monetary value and sentimental value. By integrating digital assets in your estate plan, you ensure that these assets are not lost, misused, or left unattended upon your disability demise. It also provides clarity to the Power of Attorney Agent, Executor and beneficiaries about how to handle these assets.
When considering types of digital assets, the list can be extensive. It includes email and social media accounts, online financial portfolios, online content and assets stored in the cloud. Some assets, like online financial accounts, may have clear monetary value, while others, like digital photos or emails, might carry sentimental value.
Creating your digital estate plan involves a series of steps. Start with making a list, appropriately named the list of digital assets. This should detail every digital property you own. Subsequently, use a password manager like 1Password to keep track of usernames and passwords. Finally, appoint a digital executor, someone you trust, to manage your online assets after you become incapacitated or pass. At Curran Estate & Elder Law, Reading, Pennsylvania, we account for digital assets in our Financial Powers of Attorney, as well as within our Wills.
Even with a comprehensive digital estate plan, challenges can arise. Some service providers may not easily grant access to the data, even with a Power of Attorney or a death certificate being provided. There might also be legal complications, as laws governing fiduciary access to digital assets are still evolving. Seeking legal advice can help navigate these waters.
When planning for digital assets, it's essential to designate someone to manage them. While an executor is an obvious choice upon death, there are instances where you might might want a different individual during your lifetime, and that person or those persons will be appointed under your Financial Power of Attorney. This choice often depends on the nature of the asset and your personal wishes.
The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act is a legal framework addressing the executor's access to digital assets. However, nuances exist. Some assets, especially those you've licensed but don't own, may not be transferable. Understanding the legal landscape and seeking professional guidance is crucial.
Security is paramount as much as you want your Agent or Executor to access your online accounts and passwords. Unauthorized access to computer systems is illegal. Therefore, ensuring that your Agent and your Executor have the proper legal authority is crucial. Using tools like password managers and keeping a master password in a secure but accessible location can be beneficial.
With ever-increasing digitalization, digital assets will play an even more significant role in estate planning. With potential changes in the law and the evolving nature of digital platforms, staying updated is essential. Regularly revisiting and updating your estate plan can help protect your digital legacy.
In conclusion, as the digital world continues to expand, integrating digital assets into your estate plan is not just recommended but essential. By doing so, you not only protect your assets but ensure a smooth transition for your loved ones.
Free E-Newsletter – Subscribe Now