What Is Digital Estate Planning?

What Is Digital Estate Planning?

When it comes to end-of-life planning and their estate, most people don’t even think about their digital footprint. In its simplest form, a “digital asset” is a non-physical asset that exists online in electronic format. Most clients preserve digital assets either for sentimental or financial value. Examples of digital assets that are preserved for their sentimental value include:

  • Email accounts
  • Social medial accounts
  • Online banking accounts
  • Online subscription-based accounts
  • Ecommerce or marketplace accounts (i.e., Amazon, eBay, etc.)
  • Photos saved online or in the cloud
  • Online chatroom accounts
  • Cell phone apps
  • Online dating or gaming accounts
  • Online accounts for utilities
  • Loyalty program benefits (i.e., frequent flyer miles, credit card perks, etc.)
  • Any other personal information you store on your computer, cell phone, or tablet

The importance of having a digital estate plan has grown exponentially over the past decade as technology continues to occupy our daily lives. Without an estate plan, these assets could be lost forever, or your personal security could be at risk. These possibilities lead to the question: Who has access to my online accounts, and how will those accounts be managed and distributed if I become incapacitated or pass away?

Include Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

Through your will or financial power of attorney, you can give a legal representative the right to access your digital assets. However, standard or DIY estate forms, including wills and powers of attorney, may not refer to digital assets. We can draft clauses for your will and power of attorney that address your digital assets. The clauses in your estate documents permit your legal representative to access your online accounts and digital assets.

Through your estate plan, you direct your legal representative on how to manage each digital asset, including who inherits each asset. Depending on the size of your digital footprint, you may need a comprehensive estate plan for your digital assets. You also need to ensure that you choose a person who has the skills and experience necessary to access and manage digital assets and online accounts.

In addition, a low-tech way to protect your digital assets involves creating a letter of instructions that explains how your heirs where your digital assets are located and how they can access all your accounts. This letter may not grant them legal access per se, but it can help them get started with some basic information on the accounts you own and how to log in.

Final Thoughts…

Don’t leave your loved ones scrambling. With a comprehensive estate plan that includes digital assets, your family and loved ones can avoid dealing with the ordeal of losing your digital assets, having to comb through years of online account information, or filing lawsuits to gain access to these important assets. The more detailed your plan, the better off your loved ones and your online information will be when the time comes. The best way to begin is to call us today. We’re here to help.

STAY UP TO DATE

Subscribe to our newsletters

 
Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.
ebl home subscribe image

FURTHER READING

Latest Blog Posts

A Seattle family law attorney can help if you find you are in a situation where your ex is abusing your pet.

If you are an unmarried couple, a Seattle family law attorney can help you protect your partner through the use of wills and trusts.

A Seattle family law attorney can guide you with next steps should you discover that your spouse has been unfaithful.

An estate planning attorney can help you draft a will or designate some of your property as non-probate assets by creating various trusts.

Not sweating the small stuff is even more important during separation than it is at other times to have an amicable divorce.

Many people delay estate planning because facing sickness and death can be uncomfortable. However, preparation is necessary to have your wishes honored as you intend. With this in mind, consider the following suggestions to stay focused on these estate planning goals.

The thought of how to approach your partner for a divorce can be stressful, even if you believe they will take the news "well.” The upside is there are ways to communicate your intentions that can minimize the uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing while helping to make the conversation go more smoothly.

Probate in Washington state is relatively straightforward, especially with the guidance of a Seattle estate planning attorney at your side. Here is what you need to know.

Unsure where to begin gathering the foundation you need to go through the divorce process with confidence and well-prepared? Consider the following 10 tips to prepare for divorce.

Everyone who has anyone in their life needs an estate plan, even people who own little or no property.