Planning for Digital Assets

What do you keep on your computer that you would hate to lose? Pictures? Paypal account? Estate documents? If something happened to you, would others be able to access your accounts or save the information? Like jewelry or your home, the things that you store electronically are assets. Specifically, they are digital assets.

Digital assets include your computer, smartphone, tablets, readers, cameras and music players. Hard drives, thumb drives, user accounts, email, Facebook accounts, eBay accounts, and online storage accounts are all digital assets. Domain names and intellectual property rights are digital assets.

If you are an author, the drafts on the computer are digital assets that are potentially worth more than the computer. If you are a professional photographer, your photos may be worth far more than the device where they are stored.

Accessing someone else’s digital assets during an illness or after death may be difficult. Arkansas passed the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act in 2017. The law first looks to see if you designated someone to have access to your account through an online tool. Currently only Google and Facebook have online tools to give access. The law then looks at your estate planning documents. Do your durable power of attorney, trust, and wills include language allowing access? Even with explicit language in those documents, the custodian of the digital assets may still limit types of access through its service agreement.

If you have a myriad of passwords, it is time to get organized. Create a password list and keep it secure somewhere far from your computer (a post-it note on your computer is a bad idea). Give someone access to your password list. Look into digital services to manage information; for example, you can start your research with mSecure, SecureSafe, or Legacy Locker.

Over 90% of your friends have computers and digital assets; it is time to plan for yours.

Karen Baim Reagler is a an experienced estate planning lawyer with over 20 years helping her clients to plan with the things that they have for the people and projects that they love. A graduate of Duke University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Western New England University, Karen stands ready to bring her estate planning excellence to help you. Call today to learn more.

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