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Estate Planning for Digital Assets

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When a Kansas City resident is considering what they might put into their Estate Plan, most folks think of traditional assets like a house, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other personal property. In the modern technological age though many of our assets are actually “digital” or in other instances, access to the real asset is digital – on a computer or mobile device.

What is a Digital Asset?

A Digital Asset is any sort of electronically maintained account, records, or even a personal file stored on your computer or mobile device including, but not limited to:

  • Online account credentials (login information) for Bank accounts, Mortgages, Auto Loans, Retirement accounts, etc.
  • Tax information (PIN numbers, past tax return access, IRS/State account credentials)
  • Email Account credentials (need to reset the password to another digital asset?)
  • Stock and Trading Account credentials and 3rd party authorizations
  • Social Media accounts (Do I want my Facebook removed upon passing?)
  • Crypto Currency (for those that partake)
  • Intellectual property (that million-dollar invention you dreamed up years ago)
  • Medical Records (Did the doctor email lab results for a child?)
  • Radio Frequency Identification “RFID” tools (some folks literally attach RFID and track all property by attaching RFID chips to high-value assets)

How Do I Manage Digital Assets?

For life and the afterlife, one should be storing Digital Assets in a secure manner. Simply writing them down on a list of usernames and password is not secure, and may not be able to be located by your family.

  • Consider storing the Digit Assets in a secured (password protected) document on your computer, mobile device, and/or the cloud. Some folks copy the information onto an SD card, CD, flash drive, or other medium and store this in a safe or safety deposit box.
  • For an added step one might consider a “password management tool” which stores these credentials through a third party such as LifeLock, Keeper Security, LastPass, Password Boss, or any other highly reviewed password management tool.
  • For a superior system, one might consider Digital Asset Management (“DAM”) software. Most banks and investment firms such as Fidelity offer these as part of their service if you have an account with them. One can look to other well-reviewed services such as Bynder, Brandfolder, Directive Communication Services, etc. Google and other email providers also have systems in place for this such as Google’s Inactive Account Manager.
  • Social Media – ensure your social media profile(s) have a “Legacy Setting” or “Legacy Contact” who is authorized to close or maintain your social media and internet presence.

Explicit Directive:

However you choose to secure your Digital Assets, you should ensure your Estate Plan (be that Power(s) of Attorney, a Will, and/or Trust) explicitly sets forth what Digital Assets you own, how they are to be managed upon passing, including designation to the proper beneficiaries. Many Digital Assets, including bank accounts and brokerage (trading) accounts, allow for a designated beneficiary, but not all. So it would be wise for one to check with each account holder to see if you can name a beneficiary. If not, that is something you should spell out, explicitly, in your Estate Plan.

Ensure all the parties who are in charge of assuming your property know when, and how, to access digital assets. For instance, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies require a very long and unique “personal key” to access them.

Digital Assets are only becoming more popular and prevalent as time goes on. With a proper Estate Plan, you can give clear guidance and access to your loved ones to effectively manage assets to your wishes.

As always, feel free to reach out to our firm – at (913) 422-0909 for a FREE CONSULTATION by phone, Zoom, or in-person at any of our Kansas City Metro Locations (Olathe, Kansas; Lawrence, Kansas; Northland Missouri; and Independence Missouri).

Our firm practices probate law in all counties in the event you have a loved one who passed away without an estate plan. For more information contact us at 913-422-0909. Or visit our website at or WM Law is here to help!