What Happens with Your Digital Assets When You Die?
Even digital assets need a plan.
Living in a digital age has created the necessity to include digital assets in your estate plan.
But what happens to your digital assets when you die, and how can you make sure they end up in the right hands?
When you think of digital assets, you may only picture your digital financial accounts. In reality, digital assets can consist of any information or intellectual property you created or own in a digital format, like:
- Photos and videos
- Online accounts (Google account, social media, email accounts, etc.)
- Digital subscriptions
- Electronic files
Without an estate plan in Central Virginia, your physical assets would go through probate, and the court would distribute them to your close family members. But what happens to digital assets without a digital estate plan?
Depending on the asset, a few things can happen:
- Digital accounts set on auto-pay continue to drain money from your bank account.
- Photos, videos, and documents become lost in the ether, as loved ones don’t know how to access them.
- Online accounts become vulnerable to hackers.
- Some accounts eventually close due to inactivity, while others remain open indefinitely.
Having a digital estate plan allows your executors or family members to access your online accounts easily without needing to jump through hoops to find passwords or convince companies to give them access.
Digital estate planning involves planning for family members or estate executors to take responsibility for your digital assets when you die.
Here are a few ways to prepare your digital estate plan:
Password managers store the passwords to all of your accounts behind one strong password. Giving your family members the login to your password manager can enable them to access your accounts after your death or incapacitation.
Right now, take some time to create a list of all of your pertinent online accounts and write down the locations of important digital photos, videos, and documents.
At the very least, your executor can use this list to understand what accounts to close and files to retrieve after your death.
If you currently store photos and files in several digital locations, take time to back them up to a cloud-based storage platform like iCloud or Google Drive. Doing so will give your executor easier access to these digital assets.
Digital estate planning can become a legal process, just like physical estate planning.
Your attorney can help you evaluate your digital assets and make sure that no important data or information will become lost after your death. They can also incorporate your digital property into your larger estate plan.
If this information has got you thinking about the potential future of your digital assets, we can put your mind at ease. As always, contact us with any questions or if you need legal guidance.