A Digital Life

Man logging in to various online accounts (digital assets) on laptop

How do you plan for digital assets?

Most of our financial information, social interactions, and family sentiments are in some form of digital storage. These are commonly called “digital assets.” More and more of our lives are no longer in tangible form. What happens to all this information upon death? Much of it may “get lost” if the existence of these assets is unknown or becomes inaccessible by your personal representative or trustee.

Keeping track of your digital assets is a first step in managing these accounts. Consider if you have any of the following: social media accounts, financial accounts at brick-and-mortar and online institutions, business documents and other files stored in the cloud, cryptocurrency, NFTs, databases, device backups, internet domain names and URLs, streaming service accounts (e.g., Netflix, Peacock, Hulu), merchant accounts (e.g., Amazon, Etsy, eBay), gaming tokens, virtual avatars, points-based loyalty programs (e.g., for groceries, gas stations, airlines, and hotels), monetized video content, online betting accounts, or rights to intellectual property, artwork, and literature.

Consider using a password manager to simplify the storage of names and passwords. You may instead want to manage this yourself in a document you create, but it must be stored securely yet be accessible to your personal representative or trustee. As you take inventory of your digital assets, determine to what extent these assets are backed up to cloud storage. NFT and cryptocurrency passwords should be kept in an online or offline wallet that was specifically created for this purpose. No matter how you decide to save the information, someone needs to know how to access your list of digital assets and passwords when you cannot.

Your estate plan might address certain factors such as if the personal representative or trustee needs a special “cyber” fiduciary to help manage these assets and prepare them for distribution to your heirs. Consider someone technically savvy who can step in with familiarity of the various platforms, which might require several different people. Ultimately, you want your digital assets easily located, managed, and distributed to your beneficiaries, while at the same time keeping everything secure.

If you have questions about handling your digital assets, give us a call at 248.477.6300.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2022 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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