We live in an increasingly digital world. Technology is ingrained in our day-to-day lives, so much so that maintaining personal and financial information on the internet is routine.
Any type of electronic information that can be stored on a device (such as a computer, tablet, or phone), online, or in the cloud is considered a “digital asset.” Unlike the traditional “asset,” digital assets may or may not have financial value.
All your digital property comprises what is known as your digital estate.
Digital property can be broken down into three main categories:
- Personal digital property – this includes any online accounts, such as email accounts, social media accounts, shopping accounts, photo, and video sharing accounts.
- Personal digital property with monetary value – this includes accounts that are used to manage money and may hold money or credits, like PayPal, bank accounts, loyalty rewards programs, and any accounts with credit balances in your favor.
- Digital business property refers to digital property owned by a business organization. This could include assets of an online store you manage, such as your own online store or an eBay, Etsy, or Amazon store through which you sell things.
It is common for people—even those who should know better—to underestimate the value and scope of their digital footprints. Rachel Donnelly, the founder of Black Dress Consultants, an after-loss consulting and legacy planning firm, believes whether you realize it or not, you have a digital estate that is much larger than you could have ever imagined. In fact, the average American consumer has between 90-207 online accounts with usernames and passwords…that’s a lot to manage!
The fact is, settling your estate could become complicated for your loved ones if you haven’t adequately identified or accounted for your digital assets—especially should those assets become lost or inaccessible. However, it is possible to help alleviate the administrative burden and potentially prevent significant financial and personal loss for your loved ones with a well-drafted estate plan that includes the management and distribution of digital assets.
Want to learn more about how to inventory your digital assets, manage your digital estate, and preserve your digital legacy against identity theft? Join Hurley Elder Care Law and Black Dress Consultants for a FREE community education webinar “Estate Planning for a Digital World: How to Protect Your Traditional Assets While Safeguarding Your Digital Assets” on Wednesday, April 20. More information can be found HERE. As always, contact Hurley Elder Care Law if you have any questions about Estate Planning in a digital world.
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