When most people talk about estate planning, they probably start with the obvious, such as who should get the family home. While material possessions like real estate property, vehicles, and valuable jewelry or furniture is an essential part of estate planning, it’s not the only part you should consider.
Nowadays, most Georgians are conducting their personal business online. Bank accounts, retirement funds, and even your documents stored in a cloud account are all critical assets that you can’t leave out of your estate plan.
What qualifies as a digital asset?
Your digital assets are anything that is stored online and requires a username and password for access. Some common examples include:
- Bank accounts
- Social media accounts
- Subscription services
- Retirement accounts
- Cloud accounts
You must begin by identifying all your digital assets. Your family will need access to these accounts to take care of your finances in a bank account or to access photos and memories saved on a Facebook account.
As you draft up your estate plan, you should make clear who should have access to these accounts. You can have your executor handle all your accounts, or you may divide them as you see fit. For example, you may want your executor to only handle your finances, but you want your spouse to manage your email and social media.
Many online providers have specific policies regarding account access after death. Reviewing these policies can help you decide how to handle each account.
What information is necessary?
As you list out all your online accounts, you should include the following information:
- The username or email associated with the account
- The password
- The answers to security questions or other authentication steps
The sooner you document this information in your estate plan, the better prepared you will be in the future. You can also use this time to close out any accounts that you created in the past that you no longer need, making it more manageable for your family.
Estate planning helps you organize your assets early so that you don’t have to worry about your property if you become ill or injured. Including your online accounts is a crucial step in your estate planning and one that should not be overlooked.