As people increasingly use the Internet and digital technology for things such as online money market accounts, digital photo albums and social media accounts, it becomes even more important to plan for the future of these assets and include them in one’s estate plan. Including digital assets in an estate plan and providing information and direction regarding them can help ensure that the assets are used effectively and help your loved ones after you are gone.
Modern estate plans should include digital assets
When thinking about an estate plan, people often think of documents like a will, medical and financial powers of attorney and advanced medical directives, in addition to items of property like real estate, cars, antiques and jewelry. However, as we use the Internet more and more frequently in our lives, it is vital to recognize the value of digital assets and consider what is in our digital domain.
Kiplinger reports that a recent study by McAfee found that Americans believe the value of their online assets is nearly $55,000 – an amount that could be more than the value of prized possessions and bank accounts that are sure to be addressed in an estate plan. If information about these assets and how to access them is not provided to heirs in an estate plan, however, these digital assets could be lost.
Some examples of digital assets are photos, videos and music libraries stored online or on a computer, as well as funds with PayPal or Ebay. It is worthwhile to consider what should happen with these assets, in addition to medical, tax and business information stored electronically, and provide usernames, passwords and instructions on how to handle and distribute them in one’s estate plan.
Including information on both physical and digital assets can make the administration of one’s estate easier, helping to avoid frustrating situations like staring at a log-in screen with no clue what the username or password is when trying to pay final bills. It can also provide more money to your beneficiaries if website domain names can be sold or Ebay accounts can be closed.
Get legal help to craft your estate plan
Although it can be unpleasant to contemplate the end of one’s life, it is incredibly valuable to create a plan for the distribution of your assets after you are gone. Creating an estate plan can help you establish a clear financial picture and control your legacy. Contact a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to discuss your wishes.