Woman on a computer managing her digital assets.

Do You Own Digital Assets? Here’s How to Protect Them with an Estate Plan

Many estate planners have a plan for who will receive their house, family heirlooms, and monetary assets, but many don’t consider what will happen to their digital assets. In our tech-savvy society, assets can be as valuable and lucrative as traditional assets, such as homes and property. 

Digital assets include anything that exists in a binary format and comes with a right to use, such as audio content, movies, digital documents, and digital data. If you own digital assets, your asset is an integral part of your legacy. Taking some time to consider what you’d like to happen to your digital assets after you’re no longer here can be worth it in the long run.

What Are Digital Assets?

Digital assets include any electronically stored videos, photos, and emails. Movies, documents, and any other type of data are also considered assets. You need to own the rights to the digital asset to be able to transfer ownership of the digital asset to another person after your death.

Including Your Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

The first step in digital asset estate planning is to take an inventory of all of your digital assets. Make a list of all of your social media accounts, and any assets that you own. Digital property is just like any other property in the sense that you can pass it on to other people in your will or via a trust. 

The laws involving assets are relatively new and change frequently. Speaking with an estate planning lawyer will help you determine which assets you can pass on and the best way to pass them on to loved ones. In your estate planning documents, you can specifically allow certain people to reset, bypass, or recover your passwords. 

Does Your Family Know Your Digital Passwords?

When you own digital assets, you have a right to give them to a person or people of your choosing at your death. However, your personal representative will have a difficult time accessing any password-protected digital assets without knowing the correct passwords. Some passwords are easy to bypass, but others are difficult, if not nearly impossible, to bypass. For example, if your data is encrypted, it can be impossible to access it without a password. Making sure your loved ones can access your assets will save them significant time and money. 

Social Media Accounts and Estate Planning

Social media accounts are digital property that we can give to another person on our death. However, it is still wise to make a list of your social media accounts and their login information for family members. Each social media platform has its own rules regarding what happens to a deceased person’s profile when they pass away. 

Facebook, for example, allows a person you designate to delete your Facebook account at your death. Or, the person you select can choose to memorialize or freeze your Facebook page in time. To do this, your immediate family member will need to provide a death certificate to Facebook. 

Speak to an Estate Planning Lawyer

The most important aspect of digital asset estate planning is to understand which digital assets you owned. Sometimes, we purchase digital assets like songs only to discover that we bought a license that we can’t transfer to another person. If you own rights to a digital asset, a skilled estate planning lawyer can help you understand your rights and whether or not you can transfer them. Thinking about transferring your assets might be overwhelming, but the legal team at Surprenant & Beneski, PC, can help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.