ARTICLE: Estate Planning for the 21st Century: Managing Digital Assets

Estate Planning for the 21st Century: Managing Digital Assets

Have you purchased a movie on iTunes recently?  How about an e-book from Amazon?  Do you own a domain name?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then you own digital assets.  A recent McAfee survey estimated that the average person owns $35,000.00 worth of digital assets.  In addition, family photos stored on various devices and in the cloud could be considered invaluable.

What will happen to these digital assets when you die?  Given the current lack of regulatory framework, overly complicated terms of service agreements and anti-hacking and privacy statutes these assets are at risk of being lost when you die.  Until state and federal laws catch up with technology it is important to incorporate management of digital assets into your estate plan.  Here are a few steps that you can take now:

  1. Take an inventory of all of your online accounts and content.
  2. Organize your passwords and keep them in a safe and secure place.  A paper list will work, but there are software applications that will do this too.
  3. Update both your durable power of attorney and trust or will to contain specific provisions authorizing someone to manage your digital assets.  You will also want to provide instructions on how to manage the accounts.

By taking the time now to plan ahead you can minimize the stress and financial loss your loved ones may experience.  Click here to schedule an appointment to bring your estate plan into the 21st century.