Estate planning traditionally focused on physical assets, such as your home, and financial assets, such as investments, retirement plans and money in the bank. All of those remain as important as ever.
Yet, you probably realize that a lot of the things you own are online, making your digital assets another important estate topic.
The law is slowly catching up to the era of digital assets
Digital assets refer to a wide range of things. Some will have financial value, some personal value and some no real value at all. Yet, regardless, you probably want to limit who can access them.
Before 2016, it was not that clear how to treat your digital property when you died. California’s Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act made things clearer.
You can specify what happens to digital assets when you create your estate plan
You can give people access to your online property in two ways:
- Write it in your will: Either stipulate who can access specific items or name a digital executor to take control of it all.
- Use an online tool the site offers: Most social media accounts provide these.
If you don’t get around to it, all may not be lost. The person you name to execute your overall estate can ask a court for permission to access digital assets.
Take special care with cryptocurrency
One area of special concern is cryptocurrency. The trade-off for having an investment that is incredibly hard for anyone to steal is that if you die without leaving someone your security details, they might never get in. As a result, your cryptocurrency fortune may remain untouched in cyberspace forever.
As technology advances, digital estate planning will likely become even more critical. It is also probable that federal and state authorities will introduce more laws to govern them.