SFG’s financial planning team recently listened to a webinar by Evan Carrol entitled Estate Planning for Digital Assets. While we’ve previously posted regarding Planning for a Digital Legacy, we wanted to dig deeper on this important topic.
What do you imagine when you think of your digital afterlife? In 2013, McAfee completed a study and concluded that we each have an average of $35,000 worth of digital assets. However, 93 percent of people are unaware of or confused about how to quantify and pass along this information. The first step is to identify what you have of value.
There are four types of digital assets:
1. Contents of devices
2. Email messages
3. Content of social media
4. Online commerce
An important angle to discuss with your estate planner is the difference between the ability to access information versus the right to the content. Current digital laws dictate an order of precedence regarding access, as shown below:
1. Custodian’s online tool
2. Will, trust, etc.
3. Terms of service
For instance, Google provides an online tool called the Inactive Account Manager. The preferences chosen in this capacity will supersede any instructions listed in your will. Thus, you must verify that your individual account settings reflect your final wishes. There are also differing state laws that dictate the ability of heirs to access your content. This is a process that your estate planning team can help you organize and understand.
As a takeaway from this blog, think about the following three questions and how we can help you answer them:
- Awareness: will your heirs know what you possessed and wanted to pass along?
- Access: who will have the credentials to access your information and accounts?
- Rights: have you adequately researched the legality of future access?
If you’re not convinced yet or just want to read more, read here about how a pilot protected his digital assets.