With the growing use of online and digital financial management tools, the internet has changed the way people manage their friendships, personal lives and finances. But the convenience of having a virtual presence is not without drawbacks. This presents some unique estate planning challenges you can address with advance preparation.
Take a complete inventory
In the absence of a paper trail, access to your financial and personal information may be possible only through your computer or device. Digital assets are electronic content, information, or media that require special attention during estate planning. Consider creating and securely storing a complete inventory — along with web addresses, usernames and passwords. That includes:
- Computer, cellphone and other mobile devices
- Email accounts
- Online financial accounts such as bank, brokerage, virtual payment and other online accounts, creditors and loans
- Social networking profiles as well as instructions for deleting or maintaining your profiles
- Blogs, webpages, domain names and hosts
- Photos stored on photo sharing sites
It’s best not to leave this highly sensitive information on your computer. Instead choose a secure location (e.g. personal safe, safe deposit box or cloud-based storage) that a designated individual can access in a time of need.
Leave detailed instructions
In addition to documenting your inventory, you’ll need to provide instructions for transferring ownership of digital assets. An estate planning attorney who understands how to manage digital assets can be a resource to help you organize your virtual life.
As your online presence grows, the need for including digital assets in estate planning becomes more critical. Creating a comprehensive inventory of assets and the means to access them is important. It may prevent costly financial losses for your family or estate which might occur if digital accounts are overlooked or inaccessible.
Article provided by Local Government Federal Credit Union.
Contact an estate planning attorney for additional guidance.