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digital assets and your estate plan

digital assets and your estate plan

Digital assets are an increasingly important part of our lives. However, when it comes to estate planning, these items are most often overlooked.

I recently read an article published by Fidelity on this topic. I would commend this article to everyone, whether you are a Fidelity client. It is free to read and contains useful information about digital assets, including what digital assets are, why they should be explicitly addressed as part of an estate plan (i.e. life planning) and how estate plans often overlook such things.  Please note that because of the unique characteristics of these assets, digital assets must be provided for differently than more traditional assets such as real estate, investment accounts, etc.  Thus, if your estate plan is more than a few years old, it almost certainly does not adequately address or provide for your digital assets.  

Here is a link to that article: https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/wealth-management/estate-planning-for-digital-assets

The three most important suggestions from that article include the following:

  • Making a list of digital assets and password and then providing that list to people you trust (or at least telling them where they can find such a list in case of emergency).
  • Backing up data stored in the cloud via a storage device or local computer (and/or another cloud service).
  • Working with a competent estate planning attorney to ensure that your digital assets are covered by your estate planning papers.

In addition to these helpful suggestions, you will also want to understand the specific rules and requirements of each electronic service provider. While federal and state laws have application to digital assets, additionally, each electronic services provider (such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) have their own contractual terms for users of their services.  These unique terms of use often add another layer of complexity to the process of someone being able to plan for the long-term ownership, management, access and eventual transfer of digital assets.

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