In California, living through a day without internet access is something like being asked to ditch your car in favor of a horse and buggy. Everything is on the internet. We go online to communicate with our friends, catch up on the news, sell stock, buy clothes and pay our bills.
So, what happens when your estate plan doesn’t account for your digital assets? More and more, we pump money into places that live only on the net. We value our social media accounts and our online assets. But those assets don’t protect themselves. It’s up to you to bring your digital life into your estate plan.
Why it’s important to address your digital assets
Pretty much everyone knows to account for their homes, vehicles and stock portfolios, but as Forbes notes, there’s more and more need to account for your digital assets. So much of what we do these days, we do online. And our online activities don’t always end when we do.
Additionally, as the National Conference of State Legislatures points out, things that you store in the Cloud, on your Google Drive or elsewhere may be subject to different privacy policies and terms of service agreements. In most cases, these prevent other people from accessing your assets—even if you’d rather hand them over. This can mean your family could suffer limited access to things like your:
- Social media accounts
- Stored photographs, videos and documents
- Pending online sales and purchases
- Online financial accounts
- Online trades and cryptocurrency
Fortunately, California’s revised digital assets law makes it possible for you to grant certain people access to your online accounts and assets. You can also identify the types of actions those people can take, and you can block others from gaining access. This means you can control who digs through your personal e-mails and who can enjoy your favorite family videos.
Working your digital assets into a comprehensive plan
Ultimately, your estate plan isn’t about you. It’s about caring for those whom you love and may leave behind. That can mean thinking about their finances, but it can also mean thinking about their feelings and finding ways to ease them through a difficult transition.
Every day, it seems, more of our lives find their way online. And that makes it increasingly important to think of how these assets should be passed down. Which should be deleted? Which accounts should be closed? What services need to be stopped? What should be preserved? A good digital plan can make sure all these things happen as you would like.