The modern convenience of life at this time in history is certainly about being digital. Yet, we often don’t think of these digital products as assets that we should address when handling estate planning. Like tangible assets, we must take inventory of these digital assets and determine their disposition or management after our passing.
Types of digital assets may include cyber stores, blogs, bank accounts, movie or music files, photos and social media profiles. Some may be easy to locate, and others may be buried in computer folders and go unnoticed. As part of planning, each of these items should be identified as to type and location, along with any usernames, passwords or security questions. Keep in mind, email and cell phone numbers often are used for identity verification. Further, planning should include the intended disposition – should it be maintained or should it be deleted?
It is important to note that not all digital assets we may “own” have ownership rights. Some accounts may have “use” traits only, according to their licensing notices. Whether the asset has usage-only traits or incidents of ownership will be a factor in options of disposition.
Benefits of addressing digital assets in estate planning will include death benefits of:
- Prevention of perhaps awkward social media notifications,
- Monitoring of these assets to prevent identity theft and
- Addressing bills and notices that may come during the administration period.