When people in Washington think about making a will or a trust, they may think first of their bank accounts, real estate and other forms of physical property. However, digital assets are becoming increasingly important in the estate planning world. As people live more of their lives online, access to digital accounts can be a critical aspect of planning for the future. Writing a will is often just the first step in developing an estate plan; people need to review their documents in the years to come to reflect changes to their lives as well as alterations to tax and estate law.
At the same time, they may also want to review their wills to make sure their digital assets, including email accounts, social media pages, cryptocurrency wallets and other online items, are addressed. Beneficiaries may struggle with obtaining access to these accounts if there is not a plan in place to transfer knowledge and information after a person passes on. This is particularly true as many sites and companies do not have provisions to pass accounts on to survivors after the original account holder passes away.
Some types of digital assets are more complex than others to pass on, especially as the ownership of the items may not always be clear. In some cases, the company providing the account has rights to the intellectual property or may bar anyone but the original account holder from accessing the site. There should be some form of secure storage that documents the necessary passwords to prevent complications.
People who are thinking about the future may benefit from a plan that includes all of their properties, even their digital assets. An estate planning attorney can draft wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other key documents that help people realize their visions for the future.