You’ve been working on your will, pondering over how to divide your real estate, investments and tangible property, including Aunt Sarah’s favorite brooch. However, with so much of our lives taking place online, a truly complete estate plan also includes digital assets, which may be just as valuable as any physical property that you own.
Starts at 60 explains in “The assets you probably haven’t thought of in your will,” that your digital assets are worth considering when drafting your will. Estate planning attorneys have seen an increasing number of cases where digital assets are left in limbo because people failed to take them into account.
There are two different kinds of digital assets, sentimental and financial. Sentimental assets are your social media accounts, photos, videos, and emails. There’s no real reason to include your sentimental digital assets in your will, but it’s still relevant to your estate planning because of the issues concerning the cancellation of your Facebook account.
Facebook and Google allow for a legacy contact person to be appointed prior to death. He or she is given rights to handle the account after the owner’s death. To access the account, you need to appoint someone as the digital heir. If you don’t, your family will need a court order to authorize the deletion of accounts.
Other types of financial digital assets can include intellectual property. These are things like books, screenplays, and computer programs. It can be thought of as anything worth money that’s on your computer or in the cloud. Some experts say that digital assets should be owned by a company or a trust. That’s because assets held by a person are part of his or her estate and they pass in accordance with the will. If they’re not owned by the person in their own name, but instead are held in a trust, there are no transfer issues that would apply in a will.
The fundamentals of a good digital asset estate plan include sharing information of what the asset is, where it is located, how to gain access to it and what you would like to have happen to the asset after you have passed. Make plans in advance for your digital legacy so that your wishes for this area of your life can be followed.
Reference: Starts at 60 (November 14, 2016) “The assets you probably haven’t thought of in your will”