You have likely heard all the reasons why it’s essential to have a thorough, solid estate plan. Your grieving loved ones whom you leave behind will be so grateful that they have your wishes laid out clearly for them to follow when distributing your assets. But many people don’t even think about their digital assets when drafting their will or setting up their trusts.
You probably have more digital assets than you think
Digital assets aren’t just things of monetary value. They are anything you own, or have created, that exists online or on an electronic device. Professionals might have hundreds of thousands of emails archived. Many people have YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs and other digital property.
Even casual use of the internet leaves behind a digital footprint. You probably have an account on Facebook and other social media sites, which contains all of the photos, posts and direct messages you have sent over the years. In addition, you might have an account with an online cloud where you store your private photos and documents. For a grieving family member, having access to such accounts to recover those digital treasures could bring immeasurable comfort.
Unfortunately, if you pass away without having taken your digital assets into account, you’ll leave your loved ones struggling to figure out how to gain access to them. That process could take months, and they still might never find everything that you would want them to have.
There are many ways to include your digital assets in your estate plan
One simple way of including your digital assets in your estate plan is to catalog all of your usernames and passwords into one document. Once that document is complete, you can include a provision in your will detailing whom you wish to receive that document after you pass away.
You could keep the document with your will and other sensitive documents, either at home or with your attorney. If you do this, make sure that it is in a sealed envelope, to prevent prying eyes from getting a peek at your private login information.
You could also make sure that your login information is safe through the use of a trust. The benefit of a trust is that your trustee would have control and oversight over where your sensitive information goes, and can make sure that it makes it into the hands of its intended recipient. If you want, you could even give the trustee control over your accounts while you are still alive.
Having a thorough estate plan that covers all contingencies is one of the kindest things you can do for your loved ones. Including your digital assets in that estate plan will make it even easier for your loved ones to sort out the full extent of your possessions while they are grieving your loss. Make sure that your valuable photos, videos, messages and other digital treasures are not lost in the ether, but that they make it into the hands of those you leave behind.