Estate Planning for Digital Assets

Digitally rendered piggy bank

In today’s digital age, estate planning involves more than deciding who will inherit your house or money. Many of us now own digital assets that should be factored into our estate plans. Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., an estate planning law firm serving Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, can help you navigate the complexities of planning for your digital legacy.

What Are Digital Assets? 

Digital assets are any electronic data, products, or records you can buy, sell, hold, or control online. Some common examples are:

  • Email accounts 
  • Online bank and brokerage accounts
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Cloud-stored documents and photos
  • Websites, blogs, and domain names
  • Digitally stored music, art, books, movies, and video game accounts

These digital assets can hold both monetary and sentimental value. However, unlike physical belongings, they are not always easy for heirs to locate and access. Without proper planning, your loved ones may never recover them. 

In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth enacted legislation that enables a fiduciary to access someone’s digital assets with a power of attorney, if they’ve been appointed a conservator, or if they are the personal representative or executor of the owner’s estate.

How Do I Protect My Digital Assets Upon My Death?

The experienced attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., can help you inventory your digital assets and decide how you want them managed after your death. We will work with you to establish a Digital Asset Trust that spells out your wishes. Your will works alongside this trust to ensure that none of your digital assets are overlooked.

In your will, you will appoint an executor of your estate. Your executor will carry out your wishes as outlined in your will. You can also appoint a digital executor. This person will assume responsibility for executing your wishes regarding your digital assets. You can grant your digital executor access and the authority to manage, disburse, archive, and/or delete your digital accounts and files. We can assist you in selecting the appropriate individual for this role. We will make sure your will outlines the specific powers you want your digital executor to have.

Verify the Agreements That Concern Your Digital Assets

Another important step is checking the Terms of Service (TOS) agreements for your various online accounts. Some platforms have specific policies about what happens to your profile and stored data after death. For example, someone could put your account in a “memorial” state but not grant anyone else access. In certain cases, you may need to make a formal request to have your executor given control. We can provide guidance on these situations.

Establish Secure Credentials

Security is a top concern when estate planning for digital assets. We will advise you on how to securely store and pass on the login credentials your executor will need. This may involve using a digital password manager or keeping a physical list of account details in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box. The goal is to prevent critical information from falling into the wrong hands while allowing your digital executor access.

Why You Need a Digital Estate Plan

Many people underestimate the value of their digital assets or assume they will automatically pass to their heirs. However, digital assets are not typically covered under a standard will. Without an explicit plan, your loved ones may have to go through a complicated and often unsuccessful legal process to gain access.

Additionally, it’s easy to misplace or forget encryption keys that are required to unlock some digital assets. Unless you have a secure location where your digital executor can access such keys, your valuable or costly digital assets may be lost for all time.

As you consider your digital legacy, also keep in mind that estate planning for digital assets is not a one-time task. As you open and close accounts, your digital portfolio will change. We recommend regularly reviewing and updating your plan so it stays current. Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. can help with this.

How We Can Help 

Our firm is skilled at tailoring digital asset plans to each client’s unique circumstances. We know that a business owner who has built a valuable social media presence will have different needs than someone whose main concern is passing down treasured family photos and videos. We can craft a personalized plan no matter what digital assets you own.

Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is here to guide you through digital asset planning, drawing on our deep experience in estate planning and our understanding of the ever-changing digital world. Our team, led by certified elder law attorneys Daniel Surprenant and Michelle Beneski, is dedicated to providing the practical, personal advice you need to safeguard your wishes. 

When you work with us, we can: 

  • Apply the most current laws and latest regulations
  • Help you understand your rights regarding your digital assets
  • Help you make informed decisions about your assets
  • Devise a digital estate plan that meets your needs and allows your executor to perform your wishes
  • Prepare digital estate plan documents that will provide your family with the knowledge that they’re honoring your wishes

At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, we approach this sensitive topic compassionately. We know it can feel strange to think about your digital afterlife. Our attorneys will put you at ease and walk you through each step of the process at a comfortable pace. We are here to answer all your questions and address any concerns. 

Digital asset planning is just one component of a comprehensive estate plan. Our firm can assist you with protecting your assets and providing for your loved ones. From wills and trusts to power of attorney documents and healthcare directives, we will make it our mission to implement a complete plan tailored to your needs. 

Contact Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. Today

If you are ready to take control of your digital legacy, contact Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. We have convenient office locations in Easton, Hyannis, and New Bedford and offer flexible appointment scheduling. Let us help you achieve the peace of mind that comes with knowing your wishes will be fulfilled and your loved ones will be cared for. Call today for a confidential consultation, and let us get started safeguarding your digital assets.