It is undeniable that the lives of most American adults are increasingly intertwined with the online world. From social media accounts to digital assets like cryptocurrency, each individual’s digital footprint is vast and often of significant value, both financially and sentimentally.
This shift in how many assets of value are now increasingly evolving due to one’s online presence necessitates the inclusion of digital estate planning in one’s overall estate plan. Meaning, if you haven’t yet included terms that address your digital assets in your estate plan, it’s time to make the effort to update it accordingly.
Why make this effort?
Digital assets can be valuable. They include not just online bank accounts and investments but also digital currencies, online business revenue and intellectual property like blogs, photos and digital art. Failing to account for these assets in your estate plan can result in significant financial loss for your loved ones, as well as the loss of sentimental assets. Because many important documents and information are stored digitally (from online banking and investment accounts to personal correspondence and photos) implementing digital estate planning ensures your loved ones have access to these important files and information after you’re gone.
It’s also important to keep in mind that managing a digital estate is a complex task, especially for executors who may not be tech-savvy. Including detailed instructions, access information and your wishes for each digital asset can significantly ease the burden on the executor of your estate and streamline the process of honoring your wishes in regard to your digital footprint.
As digital assets become more common, laws regarding their transfer and management are evolving. A clear digital estate plan helps ensure legal compliance and reduces the likelihood of disputes among heirs over digital assets, so seeking legal guidance as you engage in digital estate planning is wise.