Our virtual possessions and online footprints have become a fundamental aspect of our legacy in the present digital era. Digital assets, such as personal photographs stored in the cloud or monetized online platforms, possess sentimental and monetary value. Therefore, it is crucial to address these assets in a detailed and secure manner when planning for the future. Here are 7 Key Consideration for will and estate planning in the present digital era:
- Inventory of Digital Assets: Begin with a comprehensive inventory of all your digital assets. This list should encompass everything from online bank accounts, email accounts, and social media profiles to digital music, e-books, and photographs. Regularly updating this inventory ensures that each asset is addressed during the estate planning.
- Access Information: For each asset in your inventory, detail the credentials required for access. This can include usernames, passwords, PINs, and answers to security questions. Given the sensitive nature of this information, ensure you store it securely—whether that’s an encrypted digital tool, password managers, or a physical copy in a safe deposit box.
- Specify Your Wishes: Clearly define your desires for each digital asset. Do you want your digital photographs shared among family, stored securely, or perhaps printed? How should your social media profiles be addressed—should they be memorialized, deleted, or managed in a specific way? Clear instructions can prevent potential disputes or misunderstandings down the line.
- Appoint a Digital Executor: Nominate a trusted, technologically adept individual as your digital executor. They will manage, distribute, or oversee your digital accounts based on your specified directives. Given the unique challenges associated with digital assets, this person might differ from your primary estate executor.
- Cloud Storage: Many people use cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud to save personal photos, documents, and other digital assets. Specify how you’d like the data in these cloud storage accounts handled. Should files be shared, archived, or deleted? Given that some of these services have costs associated with or may be linked to email accounts, it’s crucial to guide managing these aspects.
- Monetized Digital Platforms: If you operate income-generating online platforms, such as blogs or YouTube channels, indicate how they should be managed posthumously. Would you prefer operations to continue, for the platforms to be monetized and proceeds donated, or perhaps for the accounts to be shut down? Defining your intentions ensures respect for your digital legacy.
- Digital Currencies and Wallets: The realm of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, brings its own estate challenges. Your will should offer explicit directions on distributing and managing your cryptocurrency holdings. Additionally, due to the stringent security measures like private keys and seed phrases, leave detailed yet secure instructions to facilitate access to these funds without risking security breaches during your lifetime.
As our lives become more digital, including digital assets in our estate planning is becoming increasingly important. Dealing with these assets with clarity and foresight will help ensure a smooth transition and preserve their value and sentimental significance, providing peace of mind for ourselves and our loved ones.
If you are an individual who is seeking legal assistance in creating a will tailored to your unique circumstances and needs, contact us today and find out how we can be of help.
The information provided above is of a general nature and should not be considered legal advice. Every transaction or circumstance is unique, and obtaining specific legal advice is necessary to address your particular requirements. Therefore, if you have any legal questions, it is recommended that you consult with a lawyer.