Assets with financial value and also emotional significance to beneficiaries and the testator often become the focal point of estate planning efforts. Frequently, testators prioritize physical property and may overlook the digital assets that they have accumulated throughout their lives. People now live much of their lives online, which means they have digital assets to consider as well as physical property.
Digital resources require planning as well or may become inaccessible to loved ones – or they may become too accessible for an individual’s comfort and need for privacy – after someone dies. What digital assets does someone need to address in their estate plan?
Social media accounts
Individual social media accounts often transition to memorial pages after the original owner of the account dies, but family members typically have to notify the platform of the change. In some cases, such as when an individual crafted a platform for their artwork or profession, preserving that social media presence even after someone dies will be important. Addressing access to and ownership of social media accounts in an estate plan can be a very smart move.
Cloud storage accounts
Many people now store all of their most treasured memories and documents electronically. Cloud storage could have thousands of pictures and even digitized family records that will be of emotional and social significance to loved ones when someone dies. Addressing electronic storage in an estate plan is very important for many families, especially as a disruption in payment could eventually mean the loss of those files.
Digital resources worth money
The assets that people are most likely to argue over when someone dies are those that have the most financial value. There are numerous kinds of digital assets that can be worth money and which may be hard to locate or transfer if someone does not have an estate plan in place already when they die.
Cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and even domain names are all digital assets that could be worth thousands of dollars and which people may struggle to locate without an estate plan that specifically addresses where to find and how to address those assets. Integrating digital assets into an estate plan can help someone craft a meaningful legacy and safeguard their interests after they’re no longer in a position to control their digital footprint.