Many in New Jersey recognize the need to create a viable estate plan to handle the ultimate disposition of their assets. Often, however, we fail to recognize the full extent of those assets, and leave certain holdings unprotected. The advancement of technology is one area in which this subject becomes very relevant. Many of us hold digital assets, and fail to include these holdings within our traditional estate planning documents.
Digital assets consist of the property that one owns within the digital realm. Examples would be accounts such as bitcoin or Paypal, as well as libraries of photos music, movies or books. Some people assume that there is little to no value associated with these assets, but a survey conducted by tech security giant McAfee shows that on average, people value their digital holding at over $54,000. Even if an individual feels that his or her personal online assets are worth far less, it is still important to make sure that this form of personal property is passed to one’s heirs in the event of the holder’s death.
The best way to ensure that digital assets are properly handled is to compile a list of all accounts that currently hold items of value, whether online currency or personal photos. Include the passwords and user identification information, so that loved ones can access the files if the need arises. It is also important to let heirs know of the existence of this list, and where to find a hard copy when needed.
When considering estate planning needs, it is important that all types of assets are included. In today’s world, this includes digital assets. The list of such holdings will be different for everyone, but the need to include them within one’s estate plan is the same for all New Jersey residents. In the case of online banking accounts, heirs will want the ability to withdraw those funds. In terms of family photos and other digital files, loved ones left behind will appreciate the ability to retain these items of a more personal value.
Source: Money News, “MarketWatch: It’s Time to Make a Digital Estate Plan“, Dan Weil, April 25, 2014