As we begin the new year in 2021, have you considered that data security and digital privacy may be two pressing issues that could require more attention than we may have given them in the past? On January 28, 2021, we will recognize National Data Privacy Day, making this month a great time to consider simple steps that can be taken to ensure our digital assets are secure.
One aspect of digital privacy that may be often overlooked is what happens to our digital assets after we pass away. Believe it or not, digital assets can be part of your estate plan. Let us discuss three tips to consider when reflecting on how to protect and preserve your digital assets down the road.
1. Include digital assets in your last will and testament. Just like other assets, you should consider including digital assets as part of your will when creating your estate plan. Only certain digital assets can be passed down to someone else, and these can typically be assets with financial value. For example, money in a Paypal, Amazon, or Venmo account; bitcoin; digital music and videos that you purchased from an online purveyor like Amazon Music or Apple Music; and any funds owed to you by an online store for returned or defective goods. Make a list of what you have and include it when you write your will. If you do not do this, these digital assets may pass to all of your beneficiaries, which can be somewhat of a headache later on.
2. Make sure someone can access your data. Speaking of your digital assets, make sure your future personal representative or another loved one who may work with your personal representative has access to your digital assets. Many of these assets may be password-protected. You might include instructions in your will on where the executor can find a list of your accounts and passwords, even if you cannot write the passwords in directly due to the fact that you are updating them continuously.
3. Consider sentimental digital assets. The tips above can be important for digital assets of financial value. Other digital assets, however, especially your collection of photographs and perhaps home videos, may have sentimental value that you want to ensure your heirs can preserve. If you use a certain photo storage service, include that password and information in your password list.
Our office can guide a family through their estate planning options. Please contact our office today to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.