Especially in our new reality of 100 percent teleworking and staying at home more commonly, our digital life is ever expanding. Plus, with the explosion of cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens, our financial digital life also now has real consequences. And, that is not even taking into account our digital social lives on social media and cloud storage. This is why digital estate planning has become such a hot topic.
Digital assets are everything that is held online, like videos, photos, social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), cryptocurrency accounts, frequent flyer accounts, hotel point accounts, email accounts, online subscriptions, etc. The list goes on and on, including accessing online payment portals for bills.
Consequences of ignoring digital assets
If one spouse pays all the bills and that spouse passes, could the other spouse pay those bills immediately, or do they risk having the lights shut off. Think about auto-billed accounts as well that may need to be canceled, could the surviving spouse cancel those accounts, or will accounts be billed for months or a year before acquiring accounts. And, speaking of accounts, do both spouses have access to brokerage accounts and checking/saving accounts? As one can see, ignoring digital assets can have real consequences.
Digital asset inventory
Okay, so one is sold on digital estate planning. What are the first steps? The first step is making an accounting (inventory) of all of one’s digital assets. This should include everything that has an online login screen. Make sure this inventory includes URLs, usernames and passwords. In addition, for all of one’s electronic devises that have a login, includes those as well. This includes cellphones, laptops, security systems, smart home devices, etc.
Of course, a digital estate plan will include who gets what, including one’s digital assets. Though, one should also leave instructions on what to do with those online assets that may not have traditional value, like one’s social media. Does one want that to be a permanent memorial, or does one want to have it deleted. Are there other websites that one uses that they want their accounts deleted, like adult or dating sites? These are important issues to think about. Once one has this information gathered, contact the McMinnville, Tennessee, estate planning attorney to add a digital estate plan.