Digital Assets: What Are They?
Instead of existing in photo albums and on videotapes and DVDs, most of our family photos and videos are now digital. Even if they lack commercial value, they certainly have sentimental value that you want to preserve for your family and friends. Social media accounts containing your photos and videos can also have value to your loved ones when you are gone. For example, a Facebook account can serve as a memorial after you pass away. When you consider all of the other accounts that you log into (more than 130 on average for most people), the list becomes quite lengthy. Digital assets that you may own include the following:
● Social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok) ● Financial accounts at brick-and-mortar and online institutions ● Business documents and other files stored in the cloud ● Cryptocurrency ● NFTs ● Databases ● Device backups ● Internet domain names and uniform resource locators (URLs) ● Streaming service accounts (e.g., Netflix, Peacock, Hulu) ● Merchant accounts (e.g., Amazon, Etsy, eBay) ● Gaming tokens ● Virtual avatars ● Points-based loyalty programs (e.g., for groceries, gas stations, airlines, and hotels) ● Rights to intellectual property, artwork, and literature ● Online betting accounts ● Monetized video content
Including Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan
Taking inventory of your digital assets may take some time, but it is worthwhile. If something were to happen to you, your estate planning attorney or another trusted person should have complete access to your online footprint. At our firm, we work with strategic partners to ensure each of your online accounts is handled how you would like it to be handled. Whether you want it transferred to someone else, closed to protect your privacy or something else. Using a password managers can also be used to simplify the storage of usernames and passwords. In addition, you should continuously back up all digital assets to the cloud or external drive, including important photos and documents you would like loved ones to have in case something happened to you. Also ensure that a trusted person/attorney knows how to access these important items when the time comes.
Because they are not controlled by governments or banks, cryptocurrency and NFTs must be handled very carefully. You do not have the option of calling customer service to reset your password if you forget or lose it in most cases. NFT and cryptocurrency passwords and seed phrases should be stored as hard copies not connected to the internet and should be preserved in a fireproof/waterproof bag/safe. In any case, someone needs to know how and where to access this info when you cannot.
Other estate planning considerations for digital assets include the following:
● Your estate plan can provide that your digital possessions be handled by one or more cyber successors who can distribute your digital assets like tangible property. ● One cyber successor can control your Instagram account, for example, while another can take possession of your Bitcoin. ● It is very important to not put sensitive info like passwords or seed phrases in a will, as a will is submitted to probate court and is public record. ● Consider how technologically savvy a person is before appointing that person as your cyber successor.
Next Steps for Your Digital Assets Talk to your estate planning attorney about your digital assets and cyber successors. Have a conversation with potential cyber successors about how they would handle your assets, and make sure that they would carry out your wishes before appointing them. Digital assets can be placed into a trust or distributed through your will, or you could grant access to them through a power of attorney. With the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can feel relieved that your digital assets will be easily located, managed, and passed to your loved ones. If you’d like to speak more one on one, we can set up a free legal consultation. Call the office at 305-792-8177 or email firstname.lastname@example.org