It has become the norm to store financial records in smartphones, computers, or the cloud, and to conduct financial transactions electronically.
Most people also own a trove of digital assets, which can include anything from domain names and electronically stored photos and videos to email and social media accounts.
The average person has roughly $35,000 worth of assets stored on digital devices. That value includes purchased movies, books, music and games as well as personal memories, communications, personal records, hobbies and career information. Of those surveyed by the study, 55 percent said they store assets that would be impossible to recreate, re-download or repurchase.
Unfortunately, those assets are increasingly at risk of being lost when the account owner dies. Many digital accounts are subject to complicated terms of service agreements, which can often make it difficult or impossible for surviving loved ones to access them.
Additionally, state and federal laws could put friends and relatives who try to log on to your accounts at risk of violating anti-hacking and privacy statutes.
You may have planned for your loved ones to eventually inherit your house, the Steinway grand piano, your Dad's 88-year-old Swiss watch, or other family heirlooms, but with life increasingly being lived online, you may be overlooking an increasingly important kind of property: Digital assets.
If your estate plan doesn't account for digital assets properly, your heirs may not have access to them. Family photos and videos could be lost forever, social media accounts could stay online long after you've passed, and your heirs may not receive all the money that you'd like to see come their way.
You should make a list of your digital assets and passwords so trusted others know where to find them. Back up data stored in the cloud to a local computer or storage device.
To help protect your online assets, work with Parker & Associates, P.A. to provide consent in legal documents.