With the way that technology has become so entrenched in our lives, when someone passes on in today’s world their loved ones are left to deal more with digital assets rather than a lot of paperwork to review. Digital assets can be considered anything from digital images, electronic bank and investment account statements, email records and passwords, or social media accounts.
All of these types of assets combined are considered a digital estate which needs to be planned and managed generally as you would with traditional estates. Managing your digital estate is equally as important as your traditional estate and you need to think about who will handle and what will happen to your digital assets after you pass on.
Defining Digital Assets
Digital assets are difficult to define and categorize because they can exist on many different formats. Assets in digital form could be email, word processing documents or audio and video files and can be stored on a number of devices including laptops, desktop computers, tablets, storage devices or mobile devices.
All of your digital assets can be divided as personal, financial, business and social media. Personal assets are usually stored on a phone or other device or through a personal website. Financial assets are bank accounts, Amazon and Paypal accounts while business assets are usually customer addresses and patient information. Each category of asset can have a different plan tailored to it and may have some unique issues to be resolved for your family members.
Which Digital Service
When it comes to certain types of digital assets, it can depend on the service what will actually happen to them when you pass away. With email services like Yahoo, they may not allow access to the private information to family members and will permanently delete their account when notified of your death. The same may occur with a Google account as the service will terminate any account that is inactive unless family members request access.
With other types of assets such as websites that are registered to you, they are considered true assets and will be transferred to family members of your choice. Any online account that takes the form of a traditional property interest is owned by you but an account that is considered a license is usually terminated after death.
Because it can be unclear whether certain types of digital assets will be terminated or which ones can be accessed by family members it is important to properly plan your digital estate. If there are certain accounts which you need to allow others to access you should find out if it is possible to request permission for others to use them after your death.
Although there have not been a lot of changes in the legal profession to accommodate digital asset planning it is still possible to find ways of managing your digital estate and find out what will happen to all of your accounts. With so much of your information in digital form, it is no longer enough to rely on traditional estate management alone to handle your assets.
Leo Hart is an experienced professional in cloud computing from his time working with Custom Cloud setting up customized virtual cloud networks.