What are digital assets and why are they important to my heirs?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2015 | Probate And Estate Administration

So you are filling out a questionnaire to start thinking about your estate plan and you see a question asking you to list your “digital assets.”  What are those? I have a digital clock and my computer has digital data. Is that what it means? The latter is closer to the meaning of the term.

Almost everyone has digital assets these days.  If you have a Facebook account, that is a digital asset.  If you have an online banking account, that is a digital asset. So they can range from frivolous social media to important financial documents. And when you die, someone, such as the executor of your will, may have the responsibility of accessing these accounts.

Most of the sites where this information resides have a “Terms and Conditions” page which you probably mindlessly agreed to and checked a box when you signed up for the account.  You probably never read them. But, in most cases, they probably contained some sort of clause that says that the owner of the site can’t disclose your user name and password inf9ormation to a third party without your written permissio0n.

What?  What about all those digital family photos on Facebook that can’t be replaced? What eBay and PayPal accounts that may actually have money in them but no one even knew that you sold stuff on eBay? Not only would someone handling your assets have difficulty accessing those accounts but someone else may have NO difficulty accessing them. Hackers peruse obituaries and look for accounts under those names, just hoping that they have been left open with financial and other personal information in them.

Just as it is sound advice to create unusual passwords for accounts, it is also sound advice to make sure that someone knows those passwords and the sites they are connected with should something happen to you unexpectedly. When taking a personal inventory of your assets, make sure include a list of your digital assets. And giving someone power of attorney to access these accounts may be helpful as well. If you are unsure of how to do this, a Nevada attorney can help you determine what qualifies as a digital asset and the best way to include that information in your estate plan.