Estate planning is important for everyone. At the very least, we all need to be prepared with a will, a Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. In today’s world, it’s now important we also take into account something new: digital assets.
What are digital assets?
Digital assets are the online accounts we all have. This is not simply Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. While these accounts are part of digital assets, for purposes of estate planning, the more important accounts are that that hold property. These accounts may include:
- Bank accounts
- Credit cards
Many of us no longer receive paper statements from our banks or credit cards. This makes it all the more important for us to properly categorize our digital assets for estate planning. After your death, your executor or personal representative will need access to the accounts. Part of their job is to account for all of your assets. Not only do they need to know where all of your assets are, they also need to know how to access them.
We understand not wanting to provide your passwords in a will. But the location of your passwords should be noted in the will. It’s up to you to keep those passwords up to date. This will greatly help your representative determine the full value of your estate. A great way to keep these accounts secure is to use a password manager. Not only will this help after your death but it can also help you keep your passwords straight today.
Digital assets in estate planning
Just like you would update your will each time you purchase a new home, or car, or move, you should also update your digital assets in your estate plan each time you open and close an account.
This may sound tedious but it’s incredibly important. Think about what would happen if no one knew you opened a piggy bank savings account where you collected small change. Now assume you opened that account twenty years ago and you had been depositing a few dollars each month. Now assume a standard interest rate. We’re quickly talking several thousand dollars of money that is just sitting there. But no one knows about it. If your digital assets were kept up to date in your estate plan, this could have been avoided and your heirs would be grateful for the additional sum.
Technology is new and constantly evolving. But some companies are on the cutting edge of estate planning and digital assets. In fact, Google has created a way for its users to indicate what they want to have happen to their accounts in the event of their death. But most companies don’t offer this option so, until other companies follow suit, we need to work together to make sure your digital assets are known and accessible.
Discuss your options with a lawyer
Creating an estate plan is a daunting task. Adding to that is the complexity and constant changing of all of your digital assets. An estate planning lawyer Bloomington, Illinois trusts has the experience necessary to help you categorize and to help you plan your digital assets for your estate plan.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Pioletti & Pioletti for their knowledge about estate planning.