Protecting Digital Assets with Estate Planning

People in Georgia do not just own physical assets anymore. Much of what people now own exists solely online or in the digital world. These digital assets are as much a part of their estates as more physical, tangible objects. So why are so many people leaving digital assets out of their estate plans? The problem may be that not enough people understand what is at stake.

From books and movies purchased digitally through Amazon to important emails saved in Gmail, there is a lot of digital information to plan for after one’s death. People’s biggest mistake is usually assuming that these accounts will not matter after their death, or that their loved one’s will be able to easily access them when necessary. Neither of these is true.

One of the first steps to address one’s digital assets is to create a complete list of account login information, either in a private estate planning document or with a password manager. The next step is to select a digital executor, who will be in charge of managing digital accounts and property. Such responsibilities could include:

  • Deleting or memorializing a Facebook account
  • Stopping online subscription payments
  • Distributing account login information when necessary

The digital executor should be a trusted friend or relative who is ready to take on the responsibility of managing these digital assets. It is important that this individual be trustworthy since he or she may have access to sensitive information, such as private messages or emails. To further protect privacy, login information should not be listed in a will, as these are public documents. Instead, Georgia residents have several other estate planning documents to choose from when addressing their digital assets.

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