By Adam Montana on November 19, 2017

10 Digital Assets Every Estate Plan Must Consider

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When considering assets and estate planning, most people immediately think about property, stocks, bank accounts and retirement accounts. But have you ever thought about the value of your digital assets and what will happen to them upon your death? 

In this post, we’ll talk about 10 digital assets that every estate plan should consider. Let’s get started.

 

1. Email Accounts

Your email accounts are full of all kinds of information, from daily conversations and work-related items, to potentially hackable information that could be used for identity theft. After you pass away, what will happen to your email accounts? Do your loved ones have a way to access your accounts and protect important information?

 

2. Cloud Storage

With cloud storage associated with mobile phones, laptops and valuable business information, it’s important that your family have the ability to access your data. You may have years’ worth of photographs and video in your cloud storage, and it would be upsetting if your loved ones didn’t have a way to access it.

 

3. Financial Accounts

Most people do the bulk of their financial transactions online now, so financial accounts are extremely important and heavily used. Your checking and savings accounts are important parts of your estate, but have you also considered other digital assets like BitCoin? Digital assets can be specifically bequeathed to a beneficiary in a will, but it’s also important for the beneficiary to have access to the asset. Don’t forget to identify other financial accounts such as mortgages, loans, mutual funds, bonds, stocks and superannuation.

 

4. Social Networking Accounts

Your social networking accounts may not have a monetary value associated to them, but your beneficiaries will likely want some control over these upon your death. You can nominate a person with power of attorney for your social networking accounts. Be sure to leave details, passwords, answers to secret questions and other instructions associated with these accounts.

 

5. Digital Photos

We touched on digital photos briefly when we talked about Cloud Storage, but you may have digital photos stored elsewhere as well. Digitised photos are a treasure for your posterity, so create a plan for dispersing them after you pass away. You may want to make multiple copies and store them in different places, or you might consider uploading them to an online storage service that allows access to multiple people.

 

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6. Digital Videos

Like digital photos, videos should be preserved with care. If you upload them to a website like YouTube, give your executor and/or a third party the credentials to access your account and maintain it after you pass away. You may also have videos on hard drives and storage servers that others don’t know about unless you make arrangements for them.

 

7. Hard Storage Devices

Data on laptops, desktop computers, digital devices and tablets may be important to your heirs, but do you have a way for them to access this information? If you have passwords on your hard storage devices, make a list of these along with other information that people would need in order to access your data.

 

8. External Storage Drives

Keep an inventory of external storage drives and the information contained on them. These may contain important documents, photos, videos and other information that is valuable to your heirs.

 

9. Online Shopping Accounts

Online shopping accounts may have important financial information associated with them, and if these accounts are left unattended, they could be subject to identity theft. Keep a list of all online shopping accounts along with passwords and other essential information, and secure this information in a place where your executor can readily find it.

 

10. Intellectual Property

If you have a blog or website that earns money, ebooks that earn royalties, or videos that bring in advertising funds, you’ll want to make sure that you designate heirs for this intellectual property. Your beneficiaries may receive royalty payments indefinitely on your intellectual property, but they will miss out if you don’t designate them as heirs and provide a way for them to start receiving payments. 

If you have any of these digital assets, create provisions within your estate plan for managing them. You’ll need to appoint someone to deal with your digital assets, give that person power to access and manage the assets, and prepare a power of attorney or other provision for maintaining them. You’ll also need to provide details, passwords and instructions for accessing and managing your digital assets.

For more information about digital assets or any other aspect of estate planning, get in touch with us at Altus Financial. We look forward to helping you prepare for the future.

 

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Adam Montana

As a Principal Client Adviser for Altus Financial, Adam works with individuals that need structuring advice, high net worth individuals and SME corporations. His specialties include solving financial problems by analysing strategy, setting discipline, creating total financial solutions for our clients, encompassing the full range of wealth creation and protection disciplines. Let's Connect