Even if you have an estate plan in place, you have probably found yourself wondering what happens to your digital property after you pass away. You may be surprised to discover that digital property can be handled in much the same way as tangible property in an estate plan. However, there are certain differences between the two, and how they can be distributed after your death. An estate planning attorney in Palm Desert can go over these differences with you to make the process a bit easier to understand. The following are some important steps to take regarding your digital assets:
Generate a List of Your Assets and How They can be Accessed
Your first step should be to create a list of all your digital assets, including any home utilities you manage online, online banking accounts, social media accounts, and any online businesses you own or in which you have an interest. To ensure thoroughness, you should also include certain hardware, such as computers, digital music players, smart phones, tablets and other digital devices, as well as flash drives and external hard drives. You should also include any data or information that is electronically stored, regardless of whether it is stored on a physical device, in cloud, or online. Do not forget any websites or blogs that you manage, domain names you own, and any intellectual property, such as codes you have written, trademarks, or other copyrighted materials.
You must also determine how to share the passwords required to access the aforementioned devices and accounts in the event of your death. An estate planning attorney in Palm Desert can help you determine the best way to handle this matter.
Determining How to Distribute These Assets
Depending on the nature of the digital property, the method you use to manage it may vary. You will likely want certain assets to be saved and archived, others transferred to business colleagues or family members, and still others erased or deleted.
Name A Digital Executor
Your Digital Executor is a person you designate to help settle your digital estate. However, in many parts of the country, a digital executor is not an enforceable or legally binding designation. Nevertheless, this person can be designated by the executor of your estate plan to follow your instructions or at least assist your executor with the digital part of your estate. If you live in an area of the country where a digital estate plan is a legally binding document, it is typically created as a codicil to your Last Will and Testament. However, never include passwords or PIN codes in your Will, as information in such documents eventually becomes public.
Properly Storing Your Digital Estate Plan
Your digital estate plan should be stored in a location that is both secure and accessible. You can store it in a traditional locked safe or file cabinet or store it online. Alternatively, you can give it to your estate planning attorney to be kept with your other essential paperwork, such as your Will and your traditional estate plan. Creating a plan for your digital assets is not a time-consuming activity, but it can give you substantial peace of mind. Regardless of what type of digital assets you have, creating an estate plan for them helps to ensure that these assets will not be at risk after your death.