When you think of estate planning, you might think of writing a will to determine who gets someone’s house or vacation property. However, it is important to remember the intangible aspects of your life that may be overlooked in your estate plan.
What to do with digital assets is a question you may not have asked in the past because they were less common to own. Today, as more of our lives move online, digital assets are increasingly important to address in your estate plan.
What are digital assets?
If you work in the tech industry or own a business, digital assets may be what make up a significant portion of your business or personal wealth. Digital assets include:
- Online bank accounts
- Audio files
- Licensed software
- Vector images for branding and marketing material
In short, anything that contributes to your business or lifestyle that is stored or accessed on a computer is a digital asset. If your estate plan does not address digital assets, it is time to consider rewriting it.
Access is an issue
It is important to include digital assets in your estate plan not only to ensure your intentions are carried out but to ensure that the right people have access to them when necessary. As cybersecurity concerns grow, digital assets may be difficult to access, even for loved ones or business partners who might need them in an emergency.
Your estate plan could include passwords, information about data encryption or other special instruction on how to access digital assets. As provided by Fidelity, other tips to ensure your estate plan protects your digital assets include:
- Know what you own. You may not have well-organized catalogs of audio files, videos and digital documents. To preserve these items and pass them on correctly, you need to inventory them and know what the files contain.
- Have a back up in place. The cloud is a convenient place to store all of your documents and digital files, but technology can fail when you need it the most. Regularly backing up your cloud with an external hard drive can be one way to ensure access. The hard drive should be stored in a secure place like a safe deposit box.
What digital assets are important to your life? Now is the time to consider how you will secure them for the future.