Pulling out the old family photo album when company comes over was once common practice. However, the growth and prominence of social media is making this tradition a bit passé. Once reserved to large, unwieldy books and VHS players, pictures and videos that elicit fond memories are now a smart phone or laptop away.
The Tangibility Of The Intangible
The digital world we live in goes beyond storage of photos, videos and other sentimental possessions. The new normal sees tangible financial assets transitioning to online storage. The world has come a long way from file folders and hand-written ledgers that can be accessed by opening a desk drawer.
While you may not be able to hold them in your hand, digital assets have value that benefit both you and your heirs. Specific “online possessions” that require memorialization include:
- Email accounts
- Credit card and other financial accounts
- Business data
- Personal or business websites
- Software programs
- Online photos and videos
Accounting for digital assets in an estate plan provides family not only access, but also the opportunity to pay bills and close down sites that house account numbers, credit card data, and even sensitive personal information. Without access to the most recent information documented in an estate plan, digital assets can also fall prey to hackers ready to exploit the death to commit fraud and identity theft.
More non-traditional, estate planning methods and strategies can protect digital assets. The simple act of documenting login information and making it accessible can eliminate the need for family members scrambling to secure the data.
Keeping all information current and updating your will is an ongoing responsibility that will require your attention and give your loved ones’ peace of mind.