Digital Asset Protection: 6 Reasons Why You Should Do It
In today’s world, individuals are increasingly using the web to store large amounts of private and valuable information. As a result, more and more estate planning attorneys are encouraging their clients to include digital assets in their estate plans. What are digital assets in a will? Digital assets include a variety of electronic properties such as online journals, emails, e-books, digital photos, texts, songs, and videos. Digital assets also include online account details for website or programs such as bank accounts, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other web-based account.
Is it worth it to give your loved ones access to your digital assets? Yes, it is. Experts give various reasons why people should always include digital assets in the estate plans. However, before we look at these reasons, let us look at what happens to your digital presence after you die.
What Happens in Your Absence?
Have you ever wondered what happens to your digital assets when you die? Well, if you haven’t, here is what you should know. Currently, there are no definitive laws on what happens to digital assets after death. Therefore, if you ignore the fact that you have a digital life, all those important emails you have sent or received as well as any valuable information stored on your social media account could be lost forever when you die. To avoid this from happening, it’s advisable to ensure you address digital assets in your estate plan to allow your beneficiaries to access them.
Is there another option apart from writing digital assets in wills? Some online companies have policies in place for managing a deceased user’s data. Facebook, for instance, gives you the option of having your account memorialized or deleted permanently after your death. Twitter, on the other hand, will cooperate with your authorized point of contact to deactivate your account after your demise. Other companies such Dropbox and Microsoft will disable your accounts if you stay inactive for a long time. However, these options are not as effective as having an executor manage your online accounts.
Here are six reasons why you should include digital assets in your will.
1. Retaining Sentimental Value
From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and more, a good chunk of your personal life is online. Your social media contains sentimental photos and videos that could be invaluable to your friends and family. Giving your social media details to your loved ones will allow them to stay close to you after you’ve died through photos, videos, or thoughts that you shared.
2. Getting Rid Of Anything That Can Damage Your Legacy
Those who don’t know you will use your online life to know more about you. Its, therefore, important to ensure that there is nothing negative on those accounts that can damage your reputation. Giving your family and friends access to your online accounts will enable them to manage your online assets and delete any embarrassing emails, unfiltered thoughts, or activities that can damage your digital legacy after death.
3. Ensuring Your Online Business Outlives You
If your business has an online presence, it means that you have a website and an online client base. If you fail to account for your digital assets, your online business will die with you. This means that your family will be left in financial troubles. Including digital assets in your estate plan makes it easier for your loved ones to access the online store. Listing your digital assets will also help your beneficiaries to know what strategy you used to run the business, the future plans you had for the business, and the strengths and weaknesses of the business.
4. Avoiding Fraud or Hacking
In today’s world, data has become a valuable asset, and hackers are doing everything in their power to get it. Hackers have changed tactics and are now targeting dead users’ accounts because they have discovered that no one keeps an eye on these accounts. It, therefore, important to make sure your online information is in good hands when you are gone. Failing to account for your digital assets makes it easy for fraudsters to use your online accounts to commit fraud and theft.
5. Making It Easy for The Executors to Track Everything Down
One advantage of having a plan for your digital assets is that your executor will have an easy time tracking everything down. Decide if you want your social media accounts to remain as they are now, change into a memorial format, or be shut down and decide who you want to have access to these sites beforehand. Your executor will know which accounts to delete, save, and transfer to your beneficiaries. Your executor will also be able to detect any hacking or fraud because he/she has access to all your accounts.
6. Giving Access to Your Financial Accounts and Devices
Including your digital assets in your estate plan gives your beneficiaries access to your internet trading account, foreign exchange account, online gaming site, or shopping site. With your digital assets, your beneficiaries will also gain access to your password-protected mobile phone, laptop, or workbooks.
Digital asset protection is a process that falls behind in terms of both law and technology industry. While IT enthusiasts can create innovative and creative ways to store and secure all of these electronic information and data, it’s quite obvious that they are unpopular and not so up-to-date.
Digital assets should never be ignored and should be part of your estate planning process because chances are you might have more digital assets than you think. Make sure you understand how different types of digital assets function before you include them in your will. However, listing your digital assets in your will does not mean that you should write down or share your passwords. No! Just leave enough information that will help your beneficiaries find your assets.