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Estate Planning for the Digital Era
 
August 27 – September 09, 2020
 
Money

digital assets



Key Takeaways

- Many people own digital assets: everything from domain names and electronically stored photos and videos to email and social media accounts. It's important to understand the terms of use regarding access and control of this data.

- Make a list of your digital assets and passwords so other people you trust will know where to find them. Back up data stored in the cloud to a local computer or storage device.

-To help protect your digital or online assets, work with an attorney to provide consent in legal document.

You may have planned for your loved ones to eventually inherit your house, the Steinway grand piano, your dad's 88-year-old Swiss watch, or other family heirlooms, but with life increasingly being lived online, you may be overlooking an increasingly important kind of property: digital assets.

If your estate plan doesn't account for digital assets properly, your heirs may not be able to gain access to them. Family photos and videos could be lost forever, social media accounts could stay online long after you've passed, and your heirs may not receive all the money that you'd like to leave them.

Nick Beis, vice president of advanced planning at Fidelity, notes the increasing importance of digital assets in estate planning: "With more people living more of their lives online, a new kind of asset—a digital asset—needs to be understood and accounted for in the preparation and execution of estate plans."

It has become the norm to store financial records in smartphones, computers, or the cloud, and to conduct financial transactions electronically. In addition to email and social media accounts, most people also own a trove of digital assets, which can include:

-Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies
-Domain names for websites
-Digital photos and videos
-Digital rights to literary, musical composition, motion picture, or theatrical works
-Digital accounts in an online betting account
-Blog content
-Online video channels where the content is monetized and producing an advertising revenue stream for its owner
-Online gaming avatars that offer online goods or services that may be worth real-world money

The upshot: Accounting for digital property in your estate plan has become essential. Fortunately, it's relatively simple to do.

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