Digital assets should be part of estate planning.
“Digital assets,” now that is a strange sounding concept, yes?
It is also a relatively new phenomenon.
With the rise of personal computers and the internet, people gained access to a digital world.
Now with smartphones, this access is constantly at their fingertips.
According to a recent Investment News article titled “4 ways to help clients control their digital afterlife,” digital assets also can outlive you.
This means you need a plan for passing them along to loved ones.
What happens if you do not?
Your family members may permanently lose access or trigger data deletion when attempting to log in to your account.
In response to the monetary and personal value of digital assets, many states have passed the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA).
How does it work?
A person must name a digital assets fiduciary in his or her last will and testament.
This person will be able to gain access to digital assets, following the directions in the will.
If the will lists a specific disbursement of these assets, the wishes overrule the terms of service provision of each individual site.
This only works if the client specifically addresses these provisions in his or her estate plan and whether the state has adopted RUFADAA.
Protecting ones digital assets starts with an inventory.
List all of your accounts for communications, rewards programs, shopping, online storage, finances, social media, gaming sites, and fantasy leagues.
Communications includes email and phone logins and contacts.
Rewards programs include restaurants, hotels, and airlines.
Shopping includes Amazon, Craig’s List, eBay, and department stores.
Online storage sites include iCloud and data backup sites.
Finances include online payments, banking, investment accounts, and cryptocurrency.
Social media include Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Snap Chat, and WhatsApp.
Gaming sites and fantasy leagues vary based on the game or sport.
After you have the inventory with their logins, you need to name the fiduciary for the asset as well as an alternate should the first choice be unable to fulfill the responsibility.
After you have done this, you can provide specific instructions for each asset.
It may be a good idea to utilize a secure password storage service.
This allows you to keep all of your logins for your digital assets in one place.
By doing so, you can update them accordingly and need only deliver one password to your executor.
You should also provide instructions for any two-factor authentication to the site.
You should not include this or any other logins in your will.
The document becomes public after your death.
Anyone could see your password.
As you can see, estate planning for digital assets requires organization and care.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to devise a plan to meet your needs and the laws of your state.
Reference: Investment News (Oct. 22, 2019) “4 ways to help clients control their digital afterlife”