Implementing a Digital Component to an Estate Plan

What do I need to know about ‘digital estate planning,’ particularly with regard to my intellectual property and online assets? 

In today’s modern times, estate planning encompasses more than the family jewels and heirloom China. With the concept of “digital assets” expanding rapidly, clients and estate planners alike should be intimately aware of the pitfalls awaiting anyone failing to take this property component into account. 

Discussed below are several facets of digital estate planning, ranging from simple password management to transferring high-value online assets. If you have additional questions about preparing for the future, please do not hesitate to contact the Winters Law Firm as soon as possible! 

Password and portfolio management

In the olden days, an executor could simply access the contents of one’s financial portfolio by opening the file cabinet drawer and withdrawing the appropriate file folder. Today, however, it is increasingly common for all financial information to be stored digitally – and many folks forgo the option of even receiving a paper statement. 

Accordingly, a comprehensive estate plan should include a password manager detailing the login information accompanying all savings, checking, investment, and retirement accounts. The information should be continually updated as passwords change, and should be stored with all other estate planning documents to make it accessible for the executor. 

Online assets

Many people make a living online, including bloggers, writers, photographers, and developers. From an intellectual property perspective, the contents of a valuable blog or digital portfolio can be extremely important to safeguard, and should be provided for in an estate plan accordingly. Likewise, planners should ensure that personally valuable family mementos stored digitally are properly addressed either outside the estate plan or within the personal property section of a will or trust. 

Social media

A social media presence is virtually unavoidable in today’s world. However, social media profiles should be taken down as soon as practicable following the death of the account holder – if out of nothing more than respect for the family. Of course, many may choose to leave condolences or final messages for the deceased’s family, but a comprehensive estate plan should include login information and instructions for the deactivation and/or removal of an account when necessary. Otherwise, it can be very difficult for an executor to handle this issue – resulting in the perpetual presence of the profile, which can be very difficult for survivors. 

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