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Don’t Forget About Planning For Your Digital Assets!

Estate planning has evolved in the past 5-10 years to necessitate a hard look at one’s digital assets. Early adopters are no longer the only ones with social media profiles and online banking accounts; as you drill down on your estate plan and draft your Last Will and Testament, don’t neglect to make a plan for your online records. We’ll go over the key points Virginians need to address when it comes to plan for digital assets. 

What is a Digital Asset?

Virginia’s Digital Assets Act defines a digital asset as “an electronic record in which the individual has a right or interest.” More specifically, a digital asset could be: 

  • Social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to name a few)
  • A blog or collection of blogs
  • Photos uploaded to image-sharing websites
  • Email accounts
  • Website domain names
  • Cryptocurrency 
  • Music recordings
  • Software subscriptions

Many people get confused about whether or not an online banking account is a digital asset. This can be a gray area; you can still pass these assets to your beneficiaries through a Will, trust, or payable-on-death designation, but it might be easier for your executor to have access to your online account. 

Virginia law permits estate planners to pass management authority of digital assets to your executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, conservator, or power-of-attorney agent. These individuals have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of your estate and beneficiaries.

How Should You Plan For Your Digital Assets?

With the caveat that each estate plan is unique, there are some common threads among effective plans that account for digital assets. 

  • Compile a list of your digital assets and associated usernames and passwords. While it might seem more efficient to put this information in your Will or other documents, you should place your usernames and passwords on a separate document.
  • Determine how you want these digital assets to be handled upon your passing. 
  • Check to see if certain accounts have services to wind down your digital assets. For instance, Facebook allows your legacy contact to memorialize your account after you pass. 
  • Update your estate planning documents to reflect your wishes. Keep in mind that, unless you specify that your fiduciary may access your electronic communications (like emails), he or she will not be able to access them. 

Norton Pelt Wants to Help

In exchange for a few moments of discomfort (after all, who enjoys pondering their own mortality), you can rest assured that your loved ones will be financially secure if something were to happen to you tomorrow. Now that nearly everyone has at least one or two digital assets, estate planning is more complicated than ever. Our firm can make the simple things simple and handle the rest so you can live out your golden years in peace. Reach out to Norton Pelt to discuss your options with our legal team. We’re currently offering free consultations to first responders, nurses, and other medical staff.

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