More and more of our lives are being stored in digital spaces, and while digital natives may be relatively comfortable with this reality, many of those who grew up in previous generations may not fully understand how this impacts your estate planning and the control of finances, nor how to properly take stock of digital accounts where necessary.
What are digital assets, and how can we properly organize them to make sure that they are accounted for?
Digital assets refer to our information and accounts (social, financial, medical) that are held and managed online. These can include your stock portfolio, a PayPal account, your cryptocurrency account, your tax filings, social media accounts, email accounts, etc.
CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED VIRGINIA ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYSContact us Today
Your estate planning process should certainly include this information when making decisions about who will have access to your digital assets after you pass, and how they should be managed. Here’s a good way to get started:
- Organize: Take inventory of all of your digital assets and organize them in a way that is easy to make sense of and navigate. It might be helpful to use a spreadsheet with columns and rows that are color-coded, accurately & clearly labeled. The more clearly it is organized, the easier it is for relevant parties to understand.
- Secure: Your digital assets will certainly contain sensitive data such as account passwords and the financial information those passwords are supposed to protect. The platform or software you use to organize all of your information should be protected with a strong password, and managed with a password manager. If you choose to keep a hard copy as well, be sure it’s secure and updated when necessary.
- Plan: Organizing your digital assets is the first step. After you do so, it is helpful to meet with an estate planning attorney and learn the legal procedures that need to be completed to ensure that the assets are handled properly after your passing. This is extremely important. If certain steps aren’t taken, are incomplete, or are done improperly, these assets may end up in probate or under the control of the wrong person.
Developing digital literacy is very important when it comes to maintaining control of your finances, both in the day to day management of your life, but also when for estate planning.