We live in a digital age, where more and more of our lives occur online. We create vast quantities of electronic media every year. But have you stopped to consider what will happen to your digital assets when you die?
To safeguard digital assets, many people create a digital estate plan to address digital asset management. When you work with RKPT’s personal planning lawyers, we will evaluate your digital assets and help you create a digital asset management plan to safeguard your assets after your death.
What Is Digital Asset Management in Estate Planning?
Digital asset management, also known as digital estate planning, is the process of creating a plan for what will happen to your digital assets when you are gone.
Digital assets include anything that you store digitally or electronically. This includes but is not limited to electronic pictures, and files stored online, on mobile devices, personal computers, cloud storage, as well as social media accounts and passwords, and cryptocurrency keys.
Should You Include Digital Asset Management As Part of Your Estate Plan?
You can include a digital estate plan as part of your traditional estate plan. Generally, the person you name as in charge of administering your estate or trust can be given access and inventory of all of your digital assets.
The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act
Ohio and Kentucky have adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which addresses digital assets stored online, on a device, on a computer, in the cloud, or in email accounts. The Act allows your estate’s fiduciary to have authority to access and use your digital assets after your death or when you become incapacitated.
Creating Your Digital Estate Plan
Many people use technology that saves passwords or uses facial recognition software to access online accounts. As a result, it is easy to overlook some digital assets or forget where they are stored or how we access them.
To create your digital estate plan, begin by taking an inventory of your digital assets. Then determine what you want done with them, decide who will access them and how they will gain access, and ensure that your digital estate plan complements your traditional estate plan.
Inventory Your Digital Assets
To begin estate planning for digital assets, start by taking an inventory of your digital assets, including:
- Email accounts
- Social media accounts
- Online banking accounts
- Online subscription-based accounts
- E-commerce accounts
- Photos stored online or in the cloud
- Chatroom accounts
- Cellphone apps
- Online accounts for utilities
- Loyalty program benefits
- Cryptocurrency passwords
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
- Blog content
- Online gaming avatars
- Monetized video channels that create a revenue stream
Allocate Access to Your Digital Assets
Once you have created a list of your digital assets, you must determine how those assets will be accessed, managed, and distributed. Some information will need to be saved, while you may wish to have other information destroyed.
If you have income-generating digital assets, will they be shared with a business partner? Will a family member continue to operate the e-commerce business? Or would you prefer that it be shut down?
Regarding social media asset management, think about what you would like to have done with your social media accounts. Do you want to use your social media accounts to notify friends and associates of your passing? Should your profile be taken down? Or will it be turned into an online memorial where friends can leave thoughts, memories, or condolences?
Include Your Digital Estate Plan As Part of Your Traditional Estate Plan
Because digital estate planning is relatively new, it is wise to make note of your digital estate plan in your Will or trust. It is also recommended that you keep a separate inventory of your digital assets and means of access for your fiduciary to find after your passing. You should update your digital estate plan each time you make a change to your digital assets. You should also look into adding “legacy” contacts to your major cloud accounts, like iCloud, Google Cloud or Office365 (each platform has a different process, which can be accessed through your account).
Contact RKPT’s Personal Planning Attorneys for Help Creating Your Digital Asset Management Plan
If you have questions or need help creating a digital asset management plan, the personal planning attorneys at RKPT can help. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation.
With offices in Cincinnati and Blue Ash, RKPT is proud to help people throughout the Midwest and in Florida.
Attorneys: Mark C. Patterson, Fredric J. Robbins, Thomas M. Gaier, Barry A. Spaeth, William D. Sherman, Elizabeth Slone DeHaan, Michael R. Yeazell, Jacob G. Samad, Esther M. Norton, Megan L. Ebenschweiger, Matthew L. Klein