Most of us have “digital assets”; in fact, there are 271 million North American Internet users. However, many times planning for digital assets is overlooked, even when it involves financial or business assets. Certified Financial Planner and Money Man Paul Fain discusses our digital assets this week on Sunday Money.
WHAT ARE DIGITAL ASSETS?
These online assets may include:
- Websites (domain names)
- Personal and business email accounts
- Social Media accounts
- Medical records
- Tax returns
- Bank accounts (online bill paying) and broker accounts
- eBay, Amazon, and PayPal accounts
In addition, there is the actual hardware, such as computers, backup drives, or other such devices where many of these assets are stored.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DIGITAL ASSETS AFTER THE DEATH OR DISABILITY OF THE OWNER?
In the past, important papers were kept safe in a deposit box, but in today’s world, many of the records once kept locked up in a safe are now locked up in a digital world.
- Each account and/or computer may have different usernames, passwords, and security questions
- Also, how would the personal representative access your clients’ computer if they use a thumbprint scanner or other biometric device?
Where would their personal representative, agent, or executor begin? How would their personal representatives gain access to digital information they need to manage the estate?
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO ADDRESS THIS CONUNDRUM?
Assemble an inventory of account, including:
- Domain name
- Online accounts
- Personal Identification Numbers
- Security Question and answer
- Computers, laptops, tablets, routers, USBs, CDs, DVDs, and other hardware and their locations and passwords
- Important files, photos, videos, and their digital location; consider how hard it is for you to find some files on your computer – map the location of the main folders for your personal, financial, tax, investment files, and your clients’ files and documents
- Online backup accounts
WHERE DO YOU STORE THIS INFORMATION?
- Appoint a representative
- Include in your Will and Power of Attorney
- Flash Drive
- Hard Copy
- Secure online services
THIS ISN’T ONE AND DONE IS IT?
- This information needs to be continuously updated when new accounts are added or passwords and security questions are changed
- Consider legal issues: state, federal, website
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