Adding digital files to your estate planning for your heirs

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2019 | Estate Planning |

When people in California make an estate plan, they may focus entirely on traditional assets and possessions. Who gets the new house or the restored classic car in the garage? What about adding a beneficiary to investment accounts or deciding who inherits the family heirloom? These are the types of questions people tend to focus on.

MarketWatch points out that people may also wish to consider what to do with their online assets. These may range from cryptocurrency to photos and videos. They may not seem like important things to secure, but failure to do so may leave accounts vulnerable to hackers. It could also lead to the leaking of information a person would have preferred to keep private to protect their reputation — and by extension, their family’s. The individual may also wish to protect someone else, such as a former client.

A good starting point is making a list. Here are a few items to get people started on assessing their online estate:

  • Websites, blogs and social media accounts
  • Email and messenger accounts
  • Storage and file-sharing sites
  • Online dating accounts
  • Rewards programs
  • Virtual currency

Some assets may get passed down to someone else. For instance, people who own a family business may need to ensure another family member has access to the existing company website or this may pose branding issues later on. In other instances, the individual may prefer for some accounts to be shut down. Online dating accounts may fall into this category.

A common misconception is that estate planning is only for rich people. NerdWallet disagrees. The personal finance company reminds people that almost everyone has either assets or debts that they may wish to clear up or distribute. This may help to reduce the likelihood of leaving a mess for family members to clean up, both online and off.


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