Computers, smart phones, and other electronic and digital devices are becoming more common and sophisticated every day. As people become more reliant on such devices, more and more of their lives are being placed online or stored digitally. Such increasingly digital lives can result in an important component of one’s estate plan being overlooked: the proper management and orderly transition of digital assets after one dies or becomes disabled.
Whereas traditional estate-planning focuses on the transfer and management of financial accounts, ownership interests and tangible personal assets (so-called “hard assets”), digital estate-planning encompasses one’s digital possessions, including the tangible digital devices (computers and smart phones).
In determining whether digital estate planning is right for you, one should first take a personal inventory of their digital assets. Questions to ask oneself can include:
What digital devices/media do you have and use?
What are your important online accounts? Do any of these accounts require the payment of any fees? How do you want such important online accounts to be handled in the event of your death (e.g., closed? left as is)?
What valuable items would you lose if your computer was lost or stolen today?
If you were in an accident, would your loved ones be able to gain access to your valuable or significant digital information while you were incapacitated?
If you were to die today, to what valuable or significant digital property would you like your loved ones to have access?
Do you have hard copies of important documents and pictures?
Do you have backup copies of valuable files? If so, would your loved ones be able to locate and access them? incapacitated or unable to make their own decisions.
If you have any questions regarding, or are interested in digital estate planning, please do not hesitate to contact our office.