Protecting Your Digital Assets: 4 Tips For Estate Planning
Many people have planned what happens to their home or money when they die, but far fewer of us think about our digital assets. Domain names, photos stored in the cloud, and social media accounts are all digital assets. It is essential to understand how to protect them.
If they aren’t accounted for correctly when you create your estate plan then the allocations of these resources can be stalled or even permanently delayed. This could mean lost family photos, social media accounts staying up well past your death, and any money being tied up for the sale of your assets.
We live so much of our life online, and that needs to be accounted for in our plan. Digital assets come with obstacles that are put in place to keep unauthorized people from accessing them.
Here are some tips to make sure your heirs will always have access to your digital assets.
Passwords and Data Encryption
Most data whether it be a file, device, or the cloud is stored with some level of encryption. Encrypting something is digitally scrambling a file then unscrambling it once the correct password is entered.
Take your phone as an example. The most modern phones come with face recognition, fingerprint scanning, and a password as the options to unlock them. Without these things, it’s virtually impossible and two of those things are part of you.
It’s meant to keep your information safe but it also can make it really hard for your loved ones.
Everything from hardware like your phone and computer to your cloud or accounts all have a password. Some passwords are easy to crack and gain access to by an expert but others are virtually impossible.
Having a list of passwords to the important things included in your estate plan will make this much easier for your heirs.
Your Digital Assets and Navigating the Law
Navigating the law is tough, working with a lawyer can help you wade through data privacy and criminal laws that might apply to your heirs. There are both state and federal laws that strive to protect you from unauthorized use of your accounts, but that could apply to your heirs after your death.
Some laws prohibit service providers from turning over your account without your consent. So without you having the documents in place granting permission, they would need to go to court and the costs for that would be prohibitive for most people As the world rapidly changes the law needs time to catch up so make sure your interests are protected.
Because digital assets are changing how we navigate the world, talking to a lawyer about your plans and options and help you know and in the future as things changes.
A lawyer can also help you determine if you need anything extra to protect those assets.
4 Quick Tips To Make Sure Your Estate Plan Is Digitally Savvy
- Make a list of your assets and the important credentials. Include any digital property like virtual currency or a domain name. Then put it in a sure location also with the rest of your estate plan.
- Take time to Understand Your Assets Look at the licenses of your digital assets, make sure that what you think you own is correct. Work with a lawyer to discover any limits on your digital assets and make note of those limits on the list you’ve created.
- Backup all your important files that are store in the cloud. You can do this using an online service, on a physical device like an external hard drive, or just as local files on your computer.
- Obtain legal documents giving lawful consent for specific heirs to access your accounts and for service providers to divulge the content of your digital accounts. Be septic because having a general consent letter might make service providers unwilling to release information to just anyone.