digital estate planning

The Digitalization of Estate Planning


Why is a Digital Estate Plan Important?

In today’s digital age, the digitalization of estate planning is crucial as a significant part of our lives and assets exist online. This article will explore the importance of including digital assets like social media accounts, online banking information, digital property, and cryptocurrency in your estate plan, ensuring your digital legacy is managed according to your wishes. From understanding what qualifies as a digital asset to securing these assets and appointing the right digital executor, this guide provides you with the necessary tools and knowledge to safeguard your digital presence effectively.

What Are Digital Assets?

Digital assets encompass a wide range of online accounts and properties, including your social media profiles, emails, blogs, online banking accounts, digital photo libraries, and even digital properties like domains or virtual real estate. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum also fall under digital assets and require special consideration due to their value and the security measures needed to protect them. Understanding what qualifies as a digital asset is the first step in the digitalization of estate planning. These assets are not just valuable financially but often hold sentimental value, making it important to manage them as carefully as you would physical assets.

Why Include Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan?

The digitalization of estate planning, by integrating digital assets, ensures that your online presence is handled appropriately when you pass away or if you become incapacitated. This integration helps prevent identity theft, secures any financial assets online, including digital currencies, and preserves your digital legacy, such as photos and videos, for future generations. Considering digital assets in your estate plan provides peace of mind, knowing that all aspects of your estate are managed according to your wishes.

Choosing a Digital Executor

Appointing a digital executor is crucial for managing your digital assets. This person will be responsible for closing online accounts, preserving important files, and fulfilling any final wishes related to your digital presence, including the transfer of digital currencies and other digital properties. It’s important to appoint someone you trust and who has a reasonable degree of technological know-how. Additionally, make sure they are willing and able to perform these duties, as the role of a digital executor can be complex and time-consuming.

Navigating the legal landscape of the digitalization of estate planning can be challenging. Laws governing digital assets, especially digital currencies and digital properties, are still evolving and vary significantly by location. Understanding your local laws, such as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, is essential. This knowledge will help you create a digital estate plan that complies with legal standards and protects your digital assets effectively.

Creating a Comprehensive Digital Estate Plan

To create a comprehensive digital estate plan, start by listing all your digital assets and their access information, including passwords for online banking and cryptocurrency wallets. Use secure methods like a password manager to store this information. Your plan should include instructions on how these assets should be handled, who should have access, and any specific wishes you have regarding each asset, especially how digital currencies and properties should be managed or distributed.

How to Secure Your Digital Legacy

Securing your digital legacy involves more than just legal documentation. It also requires technical security measures to protect your digital information, including the use of hardware wallets for cryptocurrency. Use strong, unique passwords for each account and enable two-factor authentication where possible. This secures your digital assets from unauthorized access and ensures your digital legacy remains intact and protected.

Digital Trusts: An Emerging Solution

Creating a digital trust can be an effective way to manage your digital assets. By placing digital assets like digital properties and cryptocurrencies into a trust, you ensure that they are managed by a trustee according to the terms you set out. This can be particularly useful for business owners or those with significant digital assets.

Ensuring Access to Digital Assets

It’s vital to ensure that your executor or trustee has the necessary information and legal authority to access your digital assets. This involves not only providing them with access details but also ensuring that access is legally permitted. Incorporating digital access clauses in your power of attorney and will can facilitate this process.

Updating Your Digital Estate Plan

As with any aspect of estate planning, it is crucial to regularly update your digital estate plan. This ensures that any new digital assets or changes in digital account policies are reflected in your plan. Regular updates help maintain the relevance and effectiveness of your estate plan.

Professional Help: Consulting with an Estate Planning Attorney

Considering the complexities involved in the digitalization of estate planning, consulting with an estate planning attorney who understands the nuances of digital assets, including cryptocurrency and digital property, is advisable. They can provide legal guidance, help draft necessary documents, and ensure your digital estate plan is comprehensive and compliant with current laws.

Key Points to Remember

  • Digital Assets Definition: Includes online accounts, digital files, cryptocurrencies, and digital properties.
  • Importance of Inclusion: Prevents identity theft and secures financial and sentimental digital assets.
  • Choosing an Executor: Select someone trustworthy and technologically capable.
  • Legal Challenges: Stay informed about local laws affecting digital assets.
  • Secure Storage: Use strong passwords and secure storage methods for access information.
  • Regular Updates: Keep your digital estate plan current by regularly updating it.

If you need help integrating digital assets into your estate plan, consider scheduling a consultation with our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys today. We’re here to assist you in securing your digital and physical legacy for the future. 

The Law Firm of Benjamin Eckman provides New Jersey residents with Estate Planning and Elder Law services. Please click here to schedule a complimentary consultation: Book a Call

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