More and more of our lives are spent connected to the internet. Whether we are listening to music on iTunes, browsing social media like Facebook, or even paying our bills online, so much of what we do these days is done online. Files, photos, music, and other things are no longer physically stored in a person’s home. Often these items are stored either on a website or “in the cloud.” We are truly living in a digital world. The repercussions of such can be felt in areas that you would not normally think about.
So exactly what happens when a person with digital assets is incapacitated or passes away? It is not as easy as boxing up and distributing someone’s things. It becomes complicated with online security protocol and trying to determine where certain items may be located. For those very reasons, there are a number of steps that you should take to better manage your digital assets.
Inventory your digital assets– Make a comprehensive list of all of your online accounts that may include your email, financial accounts, social media, online business accounts. Be sure to include your username, password, and any other required answers to security questions. Also, you should include information for your digital devices like a smart phone, tablet, or computer.
Keep your list in a secure place- Depending on where or how you choose to store your list of digital assets, there are a number of issues that can arise. If you choose to write your list on a piece of paper, there is the possibility that someone you do not trust could access the paper. Some people may even choose to store the information online in a place like Dropbox. You could choose to keep your list in a safe or lock box.
Provide access to your personal representative– After making your list, be sure that the people who you want to access your accounts have the ability to do so. Whether you grant access to only the personal representative or anyone else, you want to make sure that these individuals also keep the list in a secure fashion.
Authorize access on estate planning documents- When drafting your estate planning documents like a power of attorney or a will, be sure that the agent is granted authority to access your online accounts. Some individuals may have difficulty accessing digital assets without express authorization.
Keep your inventory current– When you open a new account or change certain information, be sure to update your inventory list. It is important to ensure that your list is current in the event that it is needed.
As life becomes more heavily dependent on the internet and our digital assets, it becomes even more important to ensure that your online accounts are taken care of in the event that something goes wrong. If you have questions about estate planning tips, contact the Nashville estate planning attorneys at The Higgins Firm. Our lawyers would be happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding your estate planning needs.