Our digital footprint continues to grow as we rely more on technology daily. But have you ever thought about what will happen to your digital assets once you’re no longer here? Estate planning is more than just ensuring your physical assets are distributed according to your wishes, it also includes protecting your digital assets. S Brad Dozier will discuss the challenges of protecting digital assets in estate planning and how to address them.
Identifying Digital Assets
One of the main challenges of protecting digital assets is identifying them. Digital assets can include anything from online financial accounts to social media profiles and even online photos. It’s important to make a list of all your digital assets and where they’re located. This will make it easier for your loved ones to access them after you’re gone. Additionally, determine who should have access to these assets and what they should do with them.
Passwords are the gatekeepers to our digital assets, so managing them properly is important. One of the best ways to do this is using a password manager, which allows storing all your passwords in one place. Share the password manager credentials with your loved ones in your estate plan. You can also consider incorporating a digital asset clause in your estate plan that allows your executor to access and manage your digital assets.
Digital Asset Protection Laws
Each state has different laws regarding digital asset management after death. Some states have established laws that outline how digital assets can be accessed, while others have yet to set specific policies.
It’s important to consult a lawyer specializing in estate planning to ensure your digital assets are protected according to your wishes. You can also include a digital asset authorization form as part of your estate plan, giving explicit permission for your chosen individual to access and manage your digital assets.
Social Media Accounts
Social media has become an important aspect of our lives, but what happens to our accounts when we’re no longer around? Some social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, allow a loved one to memorialize your account. Memorializing an account means that the account remains online, but the person cannot log in or make changes to the account. Other social media platforms will delete the account after a certain period of inactivity. Include your wishes for your social media accounts in your estate plan.
On the other hand, you may also want to consider backing up your social media accounts in case they contain important memories or information. This can include downloading photos and videos from your account or using a specialized service to save all the data from your accounts.
Protecting your digital assets in estate planning also means protecting your privacy. It’s important to consider privacy laws when accessing and managing digital assets. With the increase in cybercrime and identity theft, ensuring your executor has the credentials to access your accounts without leaving them vulnerable to hackers is crucial. In your estate plan, outline what information should be shared, to whom, and what information should remain private.
For instance, you may want your executor to have access to your financial accounts for distribution purposes but not necessarily your personal emails or social media messages. You can protect your digital assets and privacy by clearly outlining these wishes in your estate plan.
S Brad Dozier considers that protecting digital assets in estate planning can be complex. Still, ensuring your loved ones have access to your important accounts after you’re no longer around is important. By identifying your digital assets, managing passwords, understanding digital asset laws, considering social media accounts, and protecting your privacy, you can ensure your digital assets are protected according to your wishes.