Estate Planning for Digital Assets (Part 2)

In last week’s post, I wrote about the importance of digital assets and including them in your estate plan. Here are a few steps you can take to plan for these assets:

(1) Create a Digital Assets Inventory: Digital assets don’t have a physical presence, so a digital wallet holding Bitcoin couldn’t be located in the same way a coin collection in a house would be found. A digital assets inventory identifies digital assets stored on devices or online and provides the information needed to access them.

You will want to create (and frequently update) this inventory in order to make instructions for and access to your accounts as straightforward as possible for your fiduciary. At a minimum, this inventory should include the information to access your primary email account and cell phone. You’ll want to give access to the primary email where electronic financial statements and bills are sent, as well as where password reset emails would be sent so that your fiduciary can use this to access your other online accounts. Your cell phone holds many of your digital assets (texts, pictures, apps) and might be needed for two-step authentication to access certain online accounts as well.

(2) Include the Proper Authorizations and Consent in Estate Planning Documents: The Power of Attorney, Will, and Trust should have express language which

(i) authorizes the fiduciaries named in these documents to access and manage digital assets and

(ii) consents to service providers disclosing information and stored communications to these fiduciaries.

You can specify which fiduciaries have access to which digital assets if you don’t want each one to have access to every asset. You can also tailor the scope of the consent in the estate planning documents to restrict or entirely prohibit service providers from disclosing stored communications to your fiduciary for certain accounts that you might want to keep private (such as for dating websites).

(3) Identify what happens to digital assets after death: Different digital assets have different options regarding what can be done with them after you have passed away. Digital assets with financial value should be addressed in a Will or Trust, and beneficiaries of these assets should be named. You can also specify whether you want your social media and other similar accounts to be maintained or closed. If you are a business owner with digital assets (such as intellectual property or a domain name) or an influencer on social media, your estate plan should make clear how you want these assets to be managed and distributed.

As digital assets become an increasingly important part of our lives, it is also important to keep these assets in mind when preparing your estate planning documents.

For help creating or updating your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.