With digital assets becoming more and more present in our society, there has been a corresponding increase in concern for digital fraud. Because of this, financial and business planning has made protection of digital assets one of its most important goals. For those in business, the challenge is to provide adequate protection and privacy for digital assets while maintaining ease of access and control.
For estate planning purposes, attention to digital assets is also important. Without including digital assets in your estate plan, you risk delaying your family’s access to these assets when you die. Because so many business and financial matters are tied up in online accounts, this is a particularly important issue from a planning perspective.
The first thing one should do with respect to digital assets is make a comprehensive list so that one can keep track of them all. The list should include access information, and should be regularly updated. One can store this information in several secure places. Next, one should determine how one wants each asset disposed at one’s death. This can be specified in one’s will.
For certain types of digital accounts, there may be an option to take advantage of management tools that allow others to access the account when you die. Facebook and Google have particularly good policies covering this, and hopefully other companies will follow suit.
Finally, it is important to select someone you trust and put them in charge of handling your digital assets after your death. Some may prefer to use the executor of their estate, but this wouldn’t be necessary. It should probably be someone, though, who knows how to navigate online accounts with ease.
Those who take these steps can help reduce the possibility of confusion over their digital assets. Truly, it is something that all of us should be doing, even those of us who don’t have significant digital assets, since it is relatively easy to take these steps.
Source: Forbes, “Beyond Identify Theft: What You Need To Protect Your Digital Assets,” Steve Parrish, February 10, 2014.