Preparing your Digital Legacy – Protecting Your Digital Assets

Preparing your Digital Legacy – Protecting Your Digital Assets

Many people, when planning for the management of their assets after they pass on, forget to take a look and prepare their digital assets. 

What are digital assets?  A digital asset is anything that exists online. There are generally two types of digital assets. 

Financial Value Assets Social Value Assets
  • Online banking accounts/PayPal
  • Cryptocurrencies/Bitcoin
  • Income tax and other digital files
  • Dropbox accounts
  • Google Docs
  • Amazon and other online shopping
  • Google Drive
  • Social media accounts
  • Email accounts
  • Gaming/Gambling
  • And more!

Managing the passing of a loved one and their finances and the paperwork can be overwhelming enough, but handling the digital aspects of an estate can be both time-consuming and frustrating, not to mention expensive should legal help be needed to resolve any unexpected situations. 

As the world turns to more and more online services and digital wallets are becoming more common, it is important to make sure that you are prepared for someone to handle your digital assets in case you are in an accident or pass away. 

A day thinking about your estate, about what could happen, should happen or might have been, is a missed opportunity to put your affairs in order. You need to take action now.” 

What can do to prepare your digital assets? 

One of the smartest and perhaps the easiest steps you can take is to have your passwords and access instructions for your accounts in a letter.  This practical step should really be taken on a regular basis, well before you get the rest of your affairs in order, as part of smart financial planning.   A copy of this letter should be given to your lawyer and executors.  Do not include your passwords within your will, as these are considered public documents. 

Tip:  Don’t use Facebook as a place to store great photographs.  Download them and videos from the social media site and pass them on to your family.   The same goes for any photos that are on a company-hosted computer or service somewhere.  Get the photos now and save them on a device your family can access easily today. 

Digital Wills 

A digital will is basically a will that determines the fate of your personal digital presence when you die. Since people are spending more time online, the value we place on digital assets is increasing year by year. 

A digital will It does not need to be a legal document.  It lists all of your digital properties and accounts, where they’re stored, the username, email addresses associated with the accounts and the passwords.  It also lists what you want to see happen with each account and who the executor of your wishes is. Your digital should be mentioned within your actual formal will. 

Take time to read the Terms and Conditions of all of the online platforms you access. Speak to your bank, read up on the latest rules for Facebook and Instagram and Twitter.  Check with Google as to what they allow.  At the time of this article, Google does allow any user to have an executor access their accounts if it is clearly stated within a will. 

It is important to note that there are some digital platforms that do not have regulations when it comes to survivorship.  One example is Apple iCloud, which states that accounts are non-transferable and all content within the account is terminated upon your death.  Any files or photos stored on iCloud may not be accessible without a court order if it is not clearly stated within a will.   Another example is Spotify, which is a music streaming service.  The license clearly states that upon death your license ends, so it cannot be passed on to anyone.  PayPal is another example, which allows an executor to close a user’s account. They will then liquidate all remaining funds by check made out to the estate. 

Plan Ahead and Stay Informed  

Take the time to talk us to ensure you are looking after your digital legacy properly, legally, and fairly for your loved ones.  Our team at Granite Financial will connect you with a trusted source to help you create your will and your digital will.