When preparing an estate plan, some Georgians may overlook their digital assets. Many people don’t even think of themselves as having digital assets of any worth. According to a study by McAfee, however, the average American has $55,000 in digital assets. This figure assesses the potential worth for people who value the assets, not the resale amount.
Digital assets include anything that belongs to a person online. Social media accounts, email, photos in the cloud, websites and more are all types of digital assets. There are a few reasons to protect these. One is simply that it can be painful for family members to see others posting to social media accounts when they are unaware the owner has died. In addition, these accounts could become more vulnerable to identity theft.
It’s wise to meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss these assets. Estate planning documents must give heirs explicit permission to access the assets. The estate owner should also create a list of passwords and user names. There are estate planning tools that can help with this. Password managers or external hard drives can also store passwords. A letter of instruction can give heirs information on how to access these accounts.
There may be additional complications involving digital assets since the legal system has still not quite caught up to their existence. For example, estate planners should look into terms of service for their digital assets and make sure it is possible for others to access the accounts. Some platforms have procedures in place for dealing with users who have died. An estate planning attorney could help a client consider all of these issues and more.