When developing a comprehensive estate plan, individuals will often focus first on their tangible assets. Physical property such as a home, vehicle, or collections of books or artwork are generally listed first with primary and secondary beneficiaries. In recent decades, however, the role of digital assets has increased in nearly everyone’s life.
Digital assets, often called online assets, make up a large part of peoples’ lives. From cloud storage to online shopping, most individuals rely on the digital environment for several life enhancements. It is wise, then, to include these digital properties in your estate plan. Digital assets can include:
- Entertainment collections: While many people still have shelves in their home filled with books, movies and music, much of this collection has moved online. Individuals must list their online entertainment collection on estate planning documents.
- Social media: Upon their passing, some people would rather a close family member or trusted friend take over their social media presence. This can include a simple status update notifying individuals of your passing, or the continued maintenance of websites such as a file-hosting site, blog or movie reviews.
- Online storefront: Just like a brick-and-mortar family business, some individuals create and maintain an online business. Whether through eBay or Facebook Marketplace, they’ve taken the time necessary to build the business, curate customer relationships and update everything as needed. It is important to transfer ownership of these online businesses.
- Shopper rewards: Whether it is a discount package from an online retailer, gift cards or accumulated rewards such as a cash-back bonus or airline miles, these can represent thousands of dollars in value.
While including physical assets in a will is the common procedure, individuals must take the time to inventory and list their online assets as well. Doing so can prevent unnecessary familial disputes in the future.