How Should Digital Assets Be Handled in Estate Plans?

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    How Should Digital Assets Be Handled in Estate Plans?

    In the digital age, estate planning encompasses more than just physical assets, as evidenced by the advice from a Real Estate Sales Representative and Montreal Division Manager on securing and including digital assets. Alongside this expert perspective, we've gathered additional answers that provide a well-rounded approach to handling digital legacies. From appointing a digital executor to the legal transfer of intellectual property rights, discover the strategies recommended for incorporating digital assets into estate plans.

    • Secure and Include Digital Assets
    • Appoint a Digital Executor
    • Encrypt and Leave Access Instructions
    • Incorporate Digital Assets into Trusts
    • Regularly Update Online Account Beneficiaries
    • Transfer Intellectual Property Rights Legally

    Secure and Include Digital Assets

    When advising clients, I usually recommend a two-step approach. First, take inventory of all your digital assets—that includes social media accounts, online banking, cryptocurrencies, and any other online platforms you're a part of. Once you've got that list, consider using a secure digital vault or a password manager to store all the relevant login information. Make sure someone you trust knows where to find that information in case anything happens to you.

    The second step is incorporating these details into your broader estate plan. Mention your digital assets in your will, and be specific about your wishes. Some platforms have their own policies on what happens to accounts after someone passes away, so it's essential to do your research. I always suggest consulting with a legal professional to ensure everything aligns with local laws and regulations.

    Samantha Odo
    Samantha OdoReal Estate Sales Representative & Montreal Division Manager, Precondo

    Appoint a Digital Executor

    In the modern age, where digital assets form a significant part of our lives, incorporating them into estate plans is crucial. A practical step is to appoint a digital executor within the will who is trustworthy and competent. This executor would be responsible for managing and distributing online assets, from social media accounts to digital currencies, according to your wishes.

    The role of a digital executor is becoming increasingly important, as they ensure online components of the estate are not overlooked. If you haven't considered a digital executor for your estate plan, it might be time to discuss this with your legal advisor.

    Encrypt and Leave Access Instructions

    Ensuring the longevity of your digital legacy involves high-level security and clear instructions for those you leave behind. Encrypting your digital data is a vital security measure to protect against unauthorized access. However, in the event of one's passing, it is equally important to have a secure but accessible way for chosen individuals to retrieve that information.

    Detailing access instructions that can come into effect after your demise will ensure your digital legacy is preserved and used according to your preferences. Arrange for a consultation with an estate planner to establish the best way to securely leave access instructions for your digital information.

    Incorporate Digital Assets into Trusts

    When considering digital assets, creating a trust is another strategy that provides an extra layer of protection. By including digital assets like online businesses or intellectual properties in a trust, you can maintain control over how these assets are handled after your passing. Trusts offer the flexibility to specify tailored instructions for each asset, ensuring they continue to be managed or distributed in line with your values and goals.

    It's an arrangement that can bring peace of mind, knowing your digital footprint is taken care of in precise accordance with your wishes. Speak to an estate planning specialist to determine how to incorporate your virtual assets into a trust.

    Regularly Update Online Account Beneficiaries

    With the proliferation of online accounts for investments, social networks, and more, it's important to make sure that your digital presence is not left in limbo at the time of your passing. Regularly updating who will inherit these online accounts can save loved ones a significant amount of stress and time. It involves outlining who will have the right to access and manage your accounts, with instructions that are clear and up-to-date.

    This process can help in avoiding potential conflicts and ensures that your digital legacy aligns with your overall estate strategy. Don't delay in reviewing and updating the beneficiaries for your online accounts today.

    Transfer Intellectual Property Rights Legally

    Intellectual property rights are a critical aspect of digital assets, which can include anything from written works to software. Legally transferring the ownership of these digital copyrights is a part of estate planning that should not be overlooked. Assigning these copyrights ensures your intellectual work is respected and continues to generate value for your intended beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes.

    It is a demonstration of the importance you place on your digital creations and their role in your legacy. Take the next step and consult with an attorney to safeguard your digital copyrights within your estate plan.