When individuals sit down to engage in estate planning, they often think about leaving money in a bank account behind to their loved ones or maybe some of their home, car, prized collections or family heirlooms. They seldom think about what can’t be seen, though.
What are digital assets? Do they really have any real value, enough to address them in your estate plan?
Understanding what digital assets are
You can own digital assets, and they may have great value. However, they are often intangible or nonphysical. In other words, most digital assets cannot be seen or touched because they exist in an electronic environment. Examples of digital assets or property include:
- Business property, documents or databases stored electronically
- Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin
- Electronically stored art, photos or music to which you own rights
- Designs saved on a computer or in cloud-based storage (architectural blueprints, etc.)
- Software programs designed by you or exclusively for you
- Internet-based gaming and betting accounts
- Frequent flyer miles
Even though you cannot touch or see these assets physically, they may be worth quite a lot and therefore have a place in your estate plan. Many young professionals in and near Arlington, Virginia, have begun to address digital assets in their wills and other estate planning documents.
What happens if you overlook digital assets?
Your estate plan will be incomplete and fail to preserve all your assets for future generations. Further, it is not enough to distribute these assets in a will or trust. You must also make sure your beneficiaries can access them and that your estate administrator also has access.
In addition to designating who will receive your electronic property, it is wise to include the following information.
- Complete and frequently update inventory that lists all your digital property
- Passwords for online accounts or instructions on where to find your passwords (safety deposit box, home safe, your legal representative’s office, etc.)
- Written consent for family members and executors to access the assets or bypass, recover or reset your security settings and passwords
Protecting all your assets in a complicated digital world is challenging but quite attainable. Consider learning more about estate planning to ensure your children and grandchildren benefit from your attention to detail in these matters.