Have You Thought About Your Digital Assets?

When you create your estate plan, doubtless you are thinking of the property that you want to bequeath, and the financial assets that you want to leave behind to loved ones and charity. Some things that may not have crossed your mind are instructions about your digital assets. Forbes.com highlighted this growing item of concern that many people overlook. More than ever, your digital assets are an issue that your estate plan has to address. Otherwise, your family might be locked out of your online banking and social media accounts because of those Terms and Conditions that you never read.

This may not sound like a problem, and even if it is a bother, it surely has a quick fix, right? As it turns out, it is not enough to list your accounts and passwords, then give these to your executor. It does not matter if someone has this information if they do not have the legal right to access the account. Take Twitter and Facebook for example. The Terms of Service dictate who can access your account, and these regulations also depend on the state where you live. For example, after their son died during military service, parents found that they could not reach their son's email, and they faced severe legal difficulties when they asked to be able to do so.

More worrisome is the possibility that your accounts can be mined to commit identify theft, possibly leaving all your assets exposed, even leaving them open to be dissipated. Before you worry about passing down your digital assets, you have to make sure that they are secured. You want to have strong passwords, and you want to install firewalls, antiviruses, antimalware, and more.

Once your assets are safe, there are then several things that you can do to make sure that they are made available to your family after your passing. For example, you can create an encrypted electronic vault to hold all your account information. This can be done through apps such as oneSafe, eWallet, or 1Password. In this way, you can store your usernames, passwords, and security questions. You have to notify your executor or heirs about this electronic storage, and this way, it will be easier for them to access your accounts. You might want to consider using PasswordBox, which actually enables you to choose your heir, another user on PasswordBox who will inherit your account when you pass on.

You will further have to include measures in your estate plan regarding your digital accounts. The first item of business is to make security measures like those mentioned above, keeping your account information in one, safe place for an executor or an heir to have. If you are someone who has a great deal invested in digital accounts, then it will time well spent to examine your state's laws to understand the rules about digital assets. Then you can understand what you want to put into your estate plan to handle the passing down of your digital legacy. Of course, legal documents such as estate plans and state laws are something you want to go over with an attorney.

Your digital assets can be of financial value as well as of emotional importance. They can also be of historic worth to a family, especially pictures, videos, and music. As much as you may want to ensure the survival of this digital property, you can only do this if you take all the required steps. You may want to consult a professional to ensure that your assets are safe. To make sure that all your legal bases are covered, contact a probate attorney today.