What Are My Digital Assets, and How Can I Protect Them?

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When people think about protecting assets and providing for family in their estate plan, they often think about real property and end-of-life care decisions. These are certainly critical to protect, but there are other elements of an estate plan that warrant protection, even though they are intangible.

Digital assets, for example, are becoming increasingly common. And just like a home and philanthropic ideals, virtual property and online account management can be crucial elements to an estate plan.

Examples of digital assets

Common types of digital assets include:

  • Cryptocurrency, like bitcoin
  • Online stores, like Etsy
  • Social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and even dating sites)
  • Online gaming profiles and property
  • Photos stored in a cloud-based system
  • Purchased movies or music
  • Websites, including blogs
  • Bank accounts
  • Email

How to address digital assets in an estate plan

How you address your digital assets in an estate plan will depend on the type of assets you have and what you want to happen with them. You might decide to transfer assets to a loved one, or you might grant the executor of your estate permission to delete certain accounts. Understand, though, that many websites and apps have rules regarding accessing accounts that belong to people who have passed away. Examine those policies in advance.

Should you decide to grant someone access to your digital accounts, be sure that person has the necessary information. Keep track of account numbers, user names and passwords. Keep this data in a secure location that can be accessed only by authorized parties and only under specific circumstances.

Make your digital-asset-protection plans a reality

Privacy and security are crucial when it comes to protecting our digital lives. As such, it can be necessary to take added steps to make them known and accessible to someone should you pass away. Doing so as part of a comprehensive estate plan can be a way to ensure these wishes are legitimized and respected.

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