Digital Assets Need to be Covered in Estate Plans Today
An area I recently noticed becoming a concern for my clients is being sure that their online assets are as secure as what is in a safe. As a result, I have recently begun to provide a checklist for them that includes passwords and usernames for their various online accounts. This way, their families will be able to access these accounts should they become incapacitated or when they pass away. This checklist should obviously then be stored in a secure place where the family can have access to it, but not someone who has no right to the information.
I became aware of these problems several months ago when assisting a client who was putting together the assets of her mother’s estate. She was having a terrible time because none of her mom’s passwords or usernames had been stored anywhere. She had to contact several financial institutions personally, explain the situation, and provide hard copies of several documents before any data or funds were released. In the meantime, she had no idea about her mother’s estate, nor could she access any funds.
Careful estate planning means a thorough understanding of what you might have on your computer that can be considered an asset or a liability.
Many clients do not think about the information that they have stored as being part of their estate, but it truly is. There may be things on a computer that could leave the estate liable if the family gives the machine away and it is found by the wrong entity. There are photos and intellectual property that should be considered assets of the estate.
Should you have questions about what does and does not constitute a digital asset, please contact me at (626) 385-6303. I’ll be happy to assist you.
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