Estate planning can understandably be confusing and overwhelming in Virginia. This is especially true for those with large numbers of assets or high-value assets they would like to protect using trusts and wills. A particular category of assets that is often forgotten during the estate planning process, however, is digital assets.

Digital assets come in many forms. These include any data stored in a cloud system and any social media accounts. To protect these assets, it is imperative for the owner of such assets to write down what he or she wants to happen to these digital assets. For instance, he or she can put together a list featuring all existing accounts and then pinpointing which ones need to be deleted versus which ones should be accessed by an executor.

It might also be wise to leave the executor with instructions for accessing the values stored in online reward accounts or media accounts, such as iTunes or Google Play Store. Another important move is to check with companies that provide online services to find out if they offer their own methods for transferring assets when the owner of the assets dies. For instance, Google has made it possible for people to indicate how they would like their accounts handled if they fail to access them for multiple months.

Thinking about death is generally not a pleasant experience. This is why many individuals in Virginia and elsewhere have not created wills or set up trusts. However, taking estate planning seriously — particularly when it comes to digital assets — may help to protect the asset owners’ privacy and make the management of their estates easier in the event of their deaths.

Source: scientificamerican.com, “Estate Planning for Your Digital Assets“, Natalie Banta, Feb. 7, 2018