When you start thinking about estate planning, you will likely start thinking about the people and the things around you that you want to protect. You might even look around and see who you interact with on a regular basis, what you have in your bank account and what items you have that you want to hand down.
However, it is critical that you also consider what will happen to your assets that you can't see: your digital assets. These include things like your emails, online businesses, bitcoin accounts, social media accounts, digital photos and the various financial accounts you manage online. It can be vital that you take steps to protect these assets for several reasons.
To begin with, you can ensure sensitive information is not released to the wrong people. If you provide someone with your email, social media and financial account login information, that person can destroy, move or shield that information as instructed by you. Doing so can keep it out of the hands of hackers and other untrustworthy parties.
You can also avoid financial penalties by granting someone permission to control digital transactions. For instance, if you pass away unexpectedly, you can assign someone else the responsibility of stopping auto-payments and managing payments to or from your online businesses.
In order to protect these virtual assets after you pass away, you can name someone you trust to be a digital trustee. This person will be tasked with managing and finalizing the details of your virtual life in much the same way an estate administrator would manage your actual estate.
This CNBC article includes some basic steps on how to protect your assets, but it can be wise to also consult an estate planning attorney to ensure any decisions you make are legally sound and enforceable.
With a comprehensive plan in place that addresses both virtual and actual assets, you can be confident in knowing that you and your property will be protected after you are gone.