Carissa Giebel column: Are digital assets in your estate plan?
May 27, 2013 | Written by Carissa Giebel
Have you ever considered what might happen to your digital assets after you are no longer able to access them due to incapacity or death? My guess is that most people have never thought about this before.
Do you even know what “digital assets” are? Let me start there. Digital assets can include sent and received emails, email accounts, digital music, digital photographs, digital videos, gaming accounts, software licenses, social network accounts, file-sharing accounts, financial accounts, domain registrations, Domain Name System (DNS) service accounts, blogs, listservs, Web-hosting accounts, tax-preparation service accounts, online stores and auction sites, online accounts, and any similar digital asset that currently exists or may be developed as technology advances.
Digital assets may be stored on the cloud or on digital devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, peripherals, storage devices, mobile telephones, smartphones, and any similar hardware that currently exists or may be developed as technology advances.
Some of these assets may only have sentimental value, and others may have economical value, but all of them can be valuable in one way or another to your family and loved ones.
Without incorporating your digital assets into your estate plan, your family and loved ones may never be able to access to your digital assets. If you have a trust, you might want to consider getting it updated to give your trustee the authority to access, modify, control, archive, transfer and delete your digital assets.
Everyone with a Durable Power of Attorney should consider getting it updated to authorize agents to access any digital assets as well. Everyone without a Durable Power of Attorney should have one drafted, since everyone age 18 and older should have one. This document names an agent to handle your financial situation and make any other decisions you choose to give your agent the authority to make, perhaps including the power to manage your digital assets. You can choose to give your agent broad authority, or you can be specific and only give your agent limited authority as spelled out in the document.