Americans are currently witnessing one of the largest wealth transfers ever witnessed. Unfortunately, many individuals lack comprehensive estate plans.
As they approach their retirement years, high-net-worth individuals should engage their family in open, candid, and thoughtful discussions to align values and goals. Furthermore, it’s essential they include their digital footprints as part of their estate plan.
Digital assets differ from physical property in that they’re often protected with passwords and subject to state data privacy and unauthorized access laws. Furthermore, many online accounts contain terms of service agreements which specify who can receive or manage their account after death.
As this can make creating and implementing a digital estate plan more complicated, individuals should consult with an attorney experienced in estate planning to ensure their wishes are properly reflected in such an estate plan. This is particularly important if a digital asset holds significant monetary or intellectual property rights value.
An estate plan must include a comprehensive list of all digital and online assets, such as bank, brokerage and payment accounts; virtual/game accounts; email; digital collections (photos, music or videos); accumulated points; domain names and cryptocurrency accounts. Furthermore, it’s crucial that this list be stored safely while also giving fiduciaries (estate trustee or executors) passwords to these accounts.
Social Media Accounts
Online accounts, social media profiles, digital files and intellectual property represent valuable and unique assets that should be included in an estate plan to ensure they continue after you die. Be sure to clearly outline your wishes regarding account distribution, access or even deletion as part of an overall comprehensive strategy plan.
Consider decentralized technologies for digital inheritance, including blockchain-based services. Individuals can program conditions that automatically transfer assets.
As part of your estate plan, make sure your digital account login information is shared with your executor and trusted advisors – this includes email accounts, social media platforms and cloud storage accounts. Keeping passwords for these accounts safely stored can ensure your loved ones can quickly gain access in case something should happen to you; preventing identity theft or financial fraud from taking place.
Cryptocurrency is a digital asset and, like any other asset, should be carefully considered when planning an estate. Unlike bank accounts or investments where assets may be directly transferred between accounts or investments, cryptocurrency must first be extracted from its wallet via private key transfer before being delivered directly to a fiduciary or beneficiary.
As such, it is crucial that heirs record storage information and private keys for digital assets in an estate plan. It may also be beneficial to share their location with a trusted representative, such as an attorney who can ensure its transfer upon incapacity or death.
If you need legal help regarding estate planning, connect with a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice. Please keep in mind that this article serves only as general education and should not be seen as legal advice as laws vary between states and can constantly evolve; an experienced attorney will help guide your unique circumstances and goals towards fulfillment.
As people become more successful online, they amass assets and data that need to be included in their estate plans. These digital footprints may hold significant monetary or sentimental value.
Digital estate planning has quickly become an essential element of estate administration, but its implementation requires careful thought and guidance from legal professionals who specialize in this area. A digital estate may comprise anything from social media accounts and photo albums to cryptocurrency wallets and virtual business accounts.
Make it clear who should access online information systems and account logins – otherwise executors could be blocked from using them by service providers who consider their use unauthorized. It’s advisable to keep an updated list of usernames and passwords safe – for instance keeping it with other estate planning documents in a safe location is the ideal approach.