Digital assets are not a new concept but since the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, more people are turning to online accounts and electronic communication than ever before. Digital assets can include social media accounts, email, online banking, cryptocurrencies, photos, documents and so much more. Many of us may not be aware of how many online accounts we actually have which can easily exceed 100 for people who do the majority of their transactions online. Technology for the most part has enabled many people to avoid disruptions in their daily routines since lockdowns began and many businesses to continue operate by offering online services.
When people think of estate planning they tend to consider obvious assets such as property, cash and investments. A legal will can deal with these assets effectively but may not directly address a person’s digital assets and online accounts. Maintaining a record of your online accounts and passwords along with written directions for dealing with each of those accounts in the event of your death can be very helpful to your executor. A secure password management tool, such as 1Password, Keeper or LastPass, is a good place to start. Making your executor aware of where to find this information is also important, otherwise he or she may not be aware of certain assets or accounts where there is no paper record.
Keeping an updated and comprehensive list of your assets with your estate lawyer is also an effective way to ensure your estate is administered in an efficient and timely manner rather than being incomplete or delayed as a result of undiscoverable assets.
Deborah A. Todd