Many Texas residents are astounded at the manner in which technology has changed our daily lives. The Internet in particular has had an enormous level of impact on the manner in which we communicate, share and store information. For those who are considering their estate planning needs, it is important to understand that technology has created an entirely new form of assets which need to be addressed.
Digital assets are things of value that are stored online. Examples might include an Instagram account where thousands of family photos are stored, or an online account that holds extensive geneological data. Some people have online bank accounts or eWallets, which can hold a significant volume of wealth. For other families, Facebook accounts or blogs may hold content that is considered valuable.
In preparing one's estate plan, the focus is usually on tangible assets such as real and personal property, and bank or investment accounts. Little attention is paid to digital assets, even though there may be a great deal of value, both monetary and sentimental, held within such assets. In order for loved ones to have access to these resources, individuals must include digital assets within their estate planning package.
The best way to address this issue is to create a master list of all online accounts, where they are located and the user name and password for each. This list should be stored with other estate planning documents, so that one's heirs can find the information they need when the time comes. It is also a good idea to discuss digital assets with heirs, in case it may be necessary to name one or more individuals who are authorized to access and collect the assets. Each Texas family will have a different set of needs when it comes to online assets, but the topic is one that certainly deserves consideration.
Source: wkbn.com, "Digital estate planning, how to manage your assets before you die", Keely Arthur, May 3