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Should your estate plan contain digital assets?

Estate planning typically starts with physical assets, and people often begin with the biggest ones (the house) and work their way down. They may also make plans for financial assets that, while they don't hold them in a tangible form, they still control. This could include an investment portfolio, for instance.

But what about your digital assets? Can you plan for them, as well?

You may want to. The internet has taken over all areas of life, it seems, and people have a lot of information stored in the cloud. Examples of digital accounts and assets to consider include:

  • Virtual currencies.
  • Online banking and investing portfolios.
  • Social media accounts.
  • Videos and photographs that you've taken and backed up online.
  • Credit card accounts, rewards dollars or bonuses.
  • Intellectual property, such as art you have created or documents you have written. This is especially important if these are a source of income, as they may be for photographers, writers and many others.
  • Trademarks and copyrights that you own.
  • Email accounts.
  • Blogs, websites or other online avenues that generate income.

Aside from just planning how you should pass on digital currencies or photo collections, you need to make sure that your heirs both know that they exist and know how to access them. Every year, people pass away without leaving behind a critical list of passwords for bank accounts, email accounts, social media accounts and much more. This can be very difficult for your heirs if such a list does not exist.

In the digital age, estate planning can get complex, and you must know what steps to take.

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