When most people think of Estate planning, they think of packing up a house and dividing assets such as jewelry, baseball cards, and family heirlooms. These are all important things to think about, but in today’s age of technology, there is a whole other area of assets to include in your estate plan: Digital Assets.
Digital Assets include:
– Usernames and Passwords (Including cell phone passwords)
– Online bank, investment, brokerage, credit card, loan and insurance accounts.
– Online retirement plans and stock options
– Online bill payments
– Social Media accounts (Facebook, Twitter)
– Online retail accounts (E-bay, Netflix, iTunes)
– Blogs, websites, domain names
– Photo-hosting accounts (PhotoBucket, Flickr)
– Online Payment accounts (PayPal)
– Airline or other sites that offer rewards such as frequent flyer miles
– Online gaming accounts (People build up characters, and many items accumulated during the process, such as a sword, can sell on E-bay for large amounts of money.)
– Finished or unfinished intellectual property (such a book)
– “Digital Wallet” products (Starbucks app that allows you to pre-pay for your coffee)
The list goes on if you own a small business.
Digital assets are a fairly new aspect of estate planning, and, as a result, many of the laws can be confusing and vary by state. For example, Yahoo references in their terms of service “no right of survivorship and non-transferability,” meaning Yahoo will not give out the account holder’s password or other information in the case of their death. This can make accessing other digital assets difficult because email accounts often allow access to other online services. (Ex: Forgot your password? We’ll send you an email.)
When planning your estate, be sure to speak with your lawyer about your digital assets. As technology increases, digital assets are becoming increasingly valuable and important.
*Photo courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com