When making your estate plan, it’s important to be all-encompassing. You obviously want to include physical assets, including real estate, jewelry, retirement accounts, and money in the bank. However, you also want to attend to digital assets, which might include anything from cryptocurrencies to social media accounts.
There are some complex factors to weigh as you think about the placement of digital assets in your estate plan—and in this post, we’ll highlight just a few of them. As always, we recommend speaking with an estate planning attorney about any specific questions or concerns.
Not All Digital Assets are Transferable
The first point we want to make is simply this: Most individuals tend to assume that digital assets work just as tangible ones do, and thus that digital assets can be transferred to another person in the event of your death. This isn’t always the case, however. Depending on the nature of those assets, the service provider may or may not recognize the validity of transferring them, even with a legal will in place.
Speak with your estate planning attorney about what your state’s laws say about transferring digital assets.
What Happens When You are Incapacitated?
Estate planning isn’t just about what happens when you die. It’s also about what happens to your stuff should you become incapacitated—and that very much includes digital assets.
Often, you can set Powers of Attorney to authorize another party to use your digital assets and to make key decisions about those assets in the event of your incapacitation. This is another key topic to address with your lawyer.
Making Your Wishes Known
Central to any good estate plan is your will, where you can outline some of your basic wishes. Ultimately, you want to minimize the uncertainty and guesswork you leave to your survivors, and that means being as clear and as complete as possible in your will.
To that end, make sure your will includes a complete list of your digital assets, and a clear set of directions about how those assets are handled.
Think About Access
If you leave digital accounts to your survivors, you’ll need to give them a way of accessing those accounts. As such, most estate planning attorneys will recommend that you create a list of:
- All digital accounts
- User names and passwords for each
- Answers to any password “prompts” or security questions
- Information about how to access those accounts
Also—challenging though this may be—try to keep this list updated. If you change a password, make sure the new password is reflected in your estate plan.
One more thing: Make sure you keep this list of accounts and passwords stored somewhere safe, but also somewhere your loved ones will know to look for it!
Talk to an Estate Planning Attorney
These days, a lot of us “live” online, which can create a lot of estate planning complications. You don’t want to leave these issues to chance; instead, use your estate planning documents to clearly outline your wishes for these digital assets.
That’s easier said than done, but an estate planning lawyer can provide invaluable assistance, and address some of the thorny issues that might arise concerning your assets.
To speak with a skilled estate planning lawyer today, we encourage you to contact Singh Law Firm. We work with clients across California, and have ample experience handling digital assets. Learn more by reaching out to our estate planning law firm today.