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Virtual assets that should be part of an estate plan

| Feb 26, 2021 | Estate Planning

Estate assets are no longer restricted to traditional and tangible assets such as homes, vehicles, or businesses. As consumers conduct more of their business and social lives online, estates now include online financial accounts and personal blogs and other digital assets. Your estate planning should account for digital assets in wills, trusts and other estate documents.

Digital assets

Online digital assets can be anything on your smartphone, computer, internet, and the cloud. These assets usually require a password or username.

Digital assets, along with other assets, must be accounted for and properly allocated so they may be inherited as you intended. These assets often contain important information for managing other accounts and property.

Preparing digital assets

Incorporating these assets into an estate plan requires preparation. First, conduct an inventory and prepare a list of emails, online bank accounts and transactions, reward programs, subscriptions, any webpages, or domains being used, social media accounts and healthcare records. Inventory personal items such as photos, videos, or music files.   include computer files stored in hardware or the cloud, and files and apps in smartphones.

Account for hybrid assets such as individual retirement accounts or accounts that give online access to an estate plan. Automatic payments deducted from bank accounts or credit cards can also help estate heirs and administrators understand the digital estate.

A detailed list allows you to assess the value of each online asset. Their value may be financial or sentimental. Online lists and passwords should have long-in security and a paper list must be kept in a secure place.

After listing digital assets, decide on who gains access after your death. Allowing heirs and beneficiaries access allows them to control bank accounts and assume responsibility for paying off your outstanding credit cards or bills.  They should also have access to investment portfolios and digital currencies to protect your online presence from fraudulent transactions and identity theft.

Update beneficiaries

Wills and trusts should cover your current assets and status. Reviewing and update tangible and digital assets helps ensure their proper management. You should also review your beneficiaries and heirs to assure that your property is distributed only to your intended heirs and beneficiaries.

Attorneys can help evaluate your estate needs. Lawyers may also provide options on dealing with your family and business situations.