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Are your digital assets included in your estate plan?

| Nov 3, 2020 | Estate Planning

Creating a will that outlines how one’s physical assets are to be distributed amongst heirs is just the first step in estate planning in modern times. As more and more Pennsylvania residents move their lives online, they do not realize that their digital assets also need to be included in their estate plans.

What are digital assets?

As the name suggests, digital assets are those that exist online. This could include social media accounts, online bank accounts, virtual currencies, email accounts, copyrights, income generating blogs, credit card rewards, personal photographs, digital videos and information or documents found in the cloud. Digital assets do not need to have a monetary value.

Benefits of digital assets estate plan

Having a plan in place of what to do with one’s digital assets can help loved ones get access to them and protect income streams generated from them. If not included in the estate plan, the website’s terms of service may control and they generally bar anyone other than the account owner from accessing the account. As a result, individuals may not be able to open bank accounts or access pictures of loved ones for a long time.

Steps to take to include digital assets in estate plan

The first step to take in this situation is to find out what law applies to digital assets in one’s own state. This is important because it can outline what can and what cannot be included in the plan. After this, people should make a comprehensive list of their digital assets and relevant usernames and passwords and estimated value, if any. After this, they have to figure out what they want to be done with them after they themselves pass away. Specificity is helpful in these cases. Putting the plan is writing is an essential aspect of estate planning and making sure that plan is enforceable is another. An experienced attorney can provide guidance on how to ensure one’s online presence is protected after they pass.