Every day new technologies come out that simplify our lives. From virtual voice assistants to robot vacuums, technology is integrated into everyday lives.
While 100 years ago, it was common to think about what to do with physical property, like land or your jewelry collection, when estate planning, it is now equally important to consider your digital estate. Below, the experienced lawyers at Lauenstein Law Firm explain what digital estate is, why it is important to include it in your estate planning, and some tips for getting started.
What is A Digital Estate?
As the world has become increasingly digital, it comes as no surprise that our technologies and digital property leave a footprint far beyond our lives. Just as physical estates include all physical properties, such as land and houses, digital estates include digital properties such as photos and social media accounts. There are three main categories of digital property:
- Personal digital property: This includes online accounts, such as social media or email accounts.
- Personal digital property with monetary value: This includes any online account that holds credit cards or finances such as Venmo, bank accounts, or computers.
- Digital business property: This consists of any digital property owned by a business. Examples include personal online stores such as Etsy or Amazon or an online account registered to the business.
You might forget about your digital assets and properties when you first begin estate planning, but digital assets can hold just as much value. Think about all of the accounts you have ever had. Everything from your subscriptions to local newspapers to your Spotify account may hold financial or sentimental value and should be included in your estate plan
Why Should I Include Digital Assets in My Estate Plan?
Not including your digital assets in your estate plan opens up the possibility that your family and heirs lose access to your accounts forever. Think about all the pictures your mom has of you growing up on her iCloud account. If your mom does not include her digital properties in her estate plan, those precious photos and videos will be lost forever.
Additionally, if you do not make a plan for your digital assets, this opens the door for any stranger to gain access to your digital assets. Think about all of the silly videos and photos you have stored on your phone. If you do not make a plan for your digital assets, these videos and photos could be accessed by anyone.
It is important to include digital assets in your estate plan so you can protect your digital assets and make sure they end up in the right hands.
Tips For Creating a Digital Estate Plan
The first thing you should do when digital estate planning is to make a list of each digital asset you own. When listing out an asset, make sure to include your username and password for each account and record it on a piece of paper or in a password manager.
Next, list your instructions for each asset. Do you want your subscription accounts to be canceled? Who do you want to manage your Etsy business? It is important to review the terms and conditions of each company’s website to align your instructions with the company’s policy.
After you figure out what you want to do with each asset, you should choose a digital executor. Here, you have the option to choose the same estate director, or choose another person like a family member or close friend. After you choose your digital executor, discuss their responsibilities to make sure that your plan will be followed. Finally, choose a safe place to store your digital estate plan and verify that your digital executor knows where to find them when the time comes.
Contact A Digital Estate Planning Attorney at Lauenstein Law Firm
The tips above may be helpful, but it is always best to make sure that you have all of the professional documents and steps for your digital estate. That’s why you should contact an experienced attorney at Lauenstein Law Firm to guide you through the estate planning process. Visit one of our offices in Maryland, fill out our online form, or give us a call at 410. 256. 0311 today.