How much of your life and data are stored online? Does the information stored online, known as your digital assets, carry any monetary value? Or are your digital assets simply sentimental? For people who make their living creating online content and achieve certain levels of fame, the digital assets may be extremely valuable. A digital asset protection plan supplements your overall estate plan and provides a strategy for handling these assets should you become incapacitated or pass away.
Creating digital asset plans is a relatively new concept. Until recently, very few laws helped loved ones gain access to online accounts if the user became incapacitated or died. If the deceased or incapacitated person wanted any of their digital assets to be deleted, modified, or distributed to loved ones, that would not likely occur as the person had hoped.
Most often the accounts would be deleted by the company that controlled them or they would just continue to exist yet remain inaccessible to family and friends. The first step in protecting your digital assets is to create a list. Start with naming all of your hardware – computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets. Next list out all of your online accounts – social media, websites and blogs you manage, banking, photo storage, and any other accounts where you store important data or accumulate points. Determine if any of them carry monetary value.
Digital assets also extend to any website domains you own and intellectual property such as trademarks, patents and copyrights. If assets will continue to generate revenue, you need to make sure it is accounted for, determine how it should be distributed and who has access to it.
You need to designate a person who will be able to access your digital assets in the case of your death or incapacitation. It could be the same person designated as the Executor in your will or you could assign someone else as your Digital Executor. You will need to leave all of your passwords and access information for each account in a safe place and instructions for the Executor to access the information at the appropriate time.
At Stouffer Legal, we help you create a digital asset protection plan in a safe, secure manner to ensure your digital assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes. Contact us at 443-470-3599 for a consultation to discuss digital asset protection as part of a comprehensive estate plan.