Digital Assets: Assets That Should Be Included In Your Estate Plan
Estate planning is for everyone. You don’t have to be wealthy to set up an estate plan. Creating an estate plan while that person is alive is a smart move. The ‘plan’ will detail the management and disposal of that person’s possessions after their death. This is typically done while minimizing taxes such as gift and income taxes.
When planning your estate, Digital Assets are often overlooked. Surprisingly, most people have a multitude of digital assets. Over 90% of homes in the U.S. have some sort of computer that hold multiple accounts.
Colorado has passed a law (SB 16-088: “Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act”) in 2016, authorizing a decedent’s (the deceased) personal representative or trustee to access and manage digital assets and electronic communications.
When meeting with an experienced wills, trusts and estate planning attorney, you should list all your digital assets and ensure your executor has all the information needed to access accounts in order to resolve or close those accounts after your death. If you place this information in a Last Will and Testament, that Will becomes a public document after death.
Email accounts are a digital asset. Many people use more than one email address. What happens to all the stored information on these accounts once a person dies? Unless specified in a will, a loved one may or may not have access to all the deceased’s digital accounts. Email servicers each have their own policy that you or your heir may not agree with. Your wishes can be protected in your estate plan regarding all your digital assets.
Identity theft is a major reason to make sure your executor is aware of all your digital accounts and assets. Scammers are always searching the newspaper obituaries to assume the deceased person’s identity or use their digital assets to obtain money, credit card and shopping information.
Some digital assets have a monetary value and make money. For example: if you have a video uploaded to a digital account that makes money every time someone clicks on it, you can leave that account - and the proceeds it makes to your children or designated person in your estate plan.
One digital asset that is very hard to delete either before or after death are the online ancestry websites. It’s been found these companies share the DNA results with over a dozen other companies and most own the rights to your DNA. There are specific instructions you can leave in your estate planning documents regarding these accounts.
If you’re one of the 210 million people who frequently shop online, you are leaving your credit card ‘footprint’. If you use a third party to pay for purchases, you should also list this account in your estate plan. You may have money credits in that account, or the account may be hacked by one of those identity theft scammers.
Our experienced and skilled wills, trusts and estate planning attorneys have the expertise and knowledge of our ever-changing laws to help you protect your assets. Call us for a consultation at 303 618-2122.
Gantenbein Law Firm's estate planning attorneys can expertly assist with securing and protecting your digital assets, an often overlooked asset in estate planning.
Call 303-618-2122 to schedule a consult.
Located in Denver, Colorado.