5 steps to keep digital assets from causing real problems

In the administration of a person’s estate, there are typically numerous details to address and resolve. This includes tax payments, asset location and management, heir identification, property distribution and account closures.

However, people often overlook one major detail when it comes to estate planning, and that is what to do with a person’s digital assets. Below, we look at five steps you can take to keep digital assets from causing problems during the administration of an estate.

  1. Identify the assets. When you are creating a will, think about the wide range of assets people typically manage virtually or online. Think about social media accounts, emails, online stores, subscription services, licensed music or artwork, domain names and digital currency, like Bitcoin.
  2. Remember the liabilities. You should also keep track of any debts or liabilities you manage online. This can include things like credit card bills or utilities that you pay online and for which you may not get a paper statement.
  3. Make them accessible (to specific people). Without the necessary login credentials, your executor or loved ones may not be able to access digital assets. Keep track of sites, user names, passwords and security questions and then keep this information in a very safe place. You may wish to inform your attorney or executor where they can find this information when the time comes.
  4. Be clear in your wishes. Clearly state what you would like to happen to your accounts, whether this means closing them down, handing off control to someone else or destroying/discontinuing them.
  5. Assign one party to manage the assets. This could be your spouse, a parent or someone else. Make sure you specify this person in your estate plan and discuss your wishes with him or her in advance. This allows the person to ask you any questions and clear up any confusion.

Managing digital assets can be a straightforward task, or it can wind up being enormously complicated. In order to pursue the former situation, you can discuss with your estate planning attorney your goals and wishes for your digital assets. With legal guidance and support, you can work your digital assets into your estate plans more easily.