Planning Your Digital Estate: Everything You Need to Know

Your digital property – also known as digital assets – make up your digital estate. This is any information about you that is available in digital format, such as on the Internet or on an electronic storage drive and also includes the information required to access the asset.

 

When planning your digital estate, your property can be divided into the following categories:

  • Personal digital property with some form of monetary or economic value.

  • Personal digital property.

  • Digital business property.

 

Personal digital property with value can include things such as:

  • Computers, hard drives & USB drives, your smartphone, tablet, digital camera and other types of digital devices.

  • Blogs or websites that create income for you.

  • Domain names you own.

  • Intellectual property such as photographs, music or art that creates income for you.

  • Accounts such as bank accounts, PayPal, loyalty programs and any account with a credit balance in your favor.

 

Personal digital property includes:

  • Data or information stores electronically in the cloud or on some sort of physical drive or device.

  • Computers, hard drives & USB drives, your smartphone, tablet, digital camera and other types of digital devices.

  • Online accounts, such as social media, email, photo sharing, video gaming, websites, blogs, shopping accounts and online storage accounts.

  • Intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrighted materials and code.

  • Domain names.

 

Digital business property may include:

  • Online accounts registered to a business.

  • Digital property owned by an organization.

  • Client information and history.

  • Assets belonging to an online store, such as your own online store, Etsy, Amazon or eBay.

  • Mailing lists, newsletter subscription lists or email lists with your business’ clients.

 

Domains

Many internet users own their own domain names for multiple reasons, including investment purposes or live sites. If you own any, they count as your digital property and in fact, are likely to hold some sort of monetary value.

 

Digital intellectual property

Any sort of digital intellectual property that you have protected in some way is classified as your own digital property, regardless if there are physical assets to the property. Many variations of digital intellectual property may have monetary value.

 

Hardware as digital property

There are various different types of devices, drives and other hardware that classifies as digital property as they contain digital information either created by you or that is about you. The hardware or device itself may also have monetary value. Hardware includes devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones, hard drives, music & playlists, e-readers and e-books.

 

Information and Data Stored Electronically

From videos and photographs, to emails, text messages and instant messages, and legal documents to medical records – these all qualify as digital property. They can be stores on a physical drive such as computer or smartphone, or electronically such as iCloud.

 

Your online accounts will also contain many bits of your personal information, which is also considered your digital property, along with the information required to access these accounts. These can include:

  • Skype, FaceTime, Instant Messaging, Whatsapp and any chats or data stored on these apps or programs.

  • Emails

  • Social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, along with anything you have posted to these sites.

  • Photo and video sharing apps such as YouTube and Instagram, and the content on these. 

  • Online shopping accounts and all the personal information you have stored in these accounts, such as order history, credit and credit card information.

  • Video gaming accounts, as well as any in-app purchases and account information.

  • Online storage accounts and the information stored.

  • Websites and blogs, and any content or writing you have posted on these platforms.

  • Customer loyalty programs.

The Complete Guide: Create a Digital Estate Plan in Five Easy Steps!

Death is an event we all have to prepare for ahead of time. When it comes to your digital property, creating a digital estate plan is a smart move that ensures things still go your way after you die. It's a quick and straightforward process. Follow these four, simple steps, and you are set to go!

 

Construct a thorough list of all your digital assets and include access details.

Your digital asset list can be quite extensive. To ensure you don't accidentally omit essential items, a quick Google search might help you define what goes on your list. Also, ask yourself: Do I have any internet accounts or information stored on my computer or online accounts? At the very least, your inventory should include all electronic gadgets (computer, smartphone, etc.), social media accounts, email accounts, and intellectual property that belongs to you or is managed by you.

Attaching access details such as location, security questions, and passwords to each item on your list ensures your digital power of attorney can efficiently handle your digital assets in your absence.

 

Outline your wishes regarding the handling of each asset.

This step lets your digital power of attorney know exactly what you want to be done with each asset. Do you want the asset deleted, saved, sold, or perhaps you want the rights to a particular asset transferred to another individual? It's important to state in a clear, concise manner how each asset is to be handled.

 

Appoint a digital asset power of attorney.

This is the person you designate as the executor of your digital estate plan. Ideally, it should be someone you trust as they will have access to all your personal and private information. This person is there to manage your digital assets responsibly and ensure negative outcomes such as financial or data loss from undiscovered accounts does not occur. Do you have bills that still need to be paid after you are gone? Your digital asset POA will ensure that it's done.

Safeguard your digital estate plan. 

Now that your digital estate plan is complete, the next step is to put it in a safe place that can still be accessed when the time is right. This is usually with your power of attorney, or a convenient and trustworthy online storage service. On the other hand, a locked, and secure safe works just as well. Regardless of the storage option you choose, always make sure your digital asset power of attorney has the means to access it. You may also need easy access to your digital estate plan if you plan to update it continually.

 

Legalize your digital estate plan if the option is available.

This last step is entirely dependent on location but where possible it's always recommended making your digital estate plan legally binding. By stating the existence of your digital estate plan and formally naming your digital asset executor in a legal document such as a Will, you ensure that your wishes can be enforced by law where needed. Consult with your power of attorney on the best way to make this inclusion without putting your digital assets at risk.

© 2019 by USA Will Guru. 5143 NE 26th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97212, United States.

+1-971-266-4667  |  usawillguru@gmail.com

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