Digital Assets in Estate Planning

Posted by Sheri Tucker, M.S., J.D.Oct 20, 20190 Comments

Digital Assets in Estate Planning are increasing as a valuable asset. It is a new type of property for attorneys to include in estate plans. When most people think about estate planning, they consider their physical assets—their home, antiques, valuable jewelry, stocks, and cash. Today, a recent type of personal property is expanding and creating valuable assets for older baby boomers and for Millennials and Generation Z.  Digital Assets as the new type of property  covers several areas of life from preserving a person's digital footprint and memories to owning virtual property as a business owner.

Defining Digital Assets

If an asset is online and you own it or own access to it, it is a digital asset.  Digital asset property covers social media, cryptocurrency, gaming, online accounts, and other virtual property.  Digital assets exist in different categories. As you read each category, think about the types you may own.

Digital Assets – Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, blog platforms, Pinterest, LinkedIn—your social media presence doesn't just disappear when you pass away. You should think about these accounts while making an estate plan. Leaving your social media accounts up and running leaves loved ones without a sense of closure or unnecessary grief if people tag you in posts or wish you a happy birthday without realizing that you are dead.  Handling social media accounts properly protects them and keeps them secure.

Digital Assets -Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency has rapidly grown in exposure and popularity in recent years. If you have Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrency, it's crucial to include it in your estate plans.  They are a valuable income producing asset that can be permanently lost without proper planning. Once a password is lost, the cryptocurrency may be lost forever.

Digital Assets – Online Gaming

Sometimes a person's estate consists of thousands of dollars in the virtual gaming world.  The gaming community knows the value of a decked-out World of Warcraft avatar or Steam account.  They have financial investments in avatars, cities, equipment, and might have thousands of dollars' worth of games on a Steam account or virtual currency tied up in a game.  Additionally, many gaming platforms have automatic billing procedures that can be hard to turn off without access to the account.

Virtual Property

There are other digital assets used in everyday life and in business.  Most people pay bills online or access check bank accounts online for accounts that are password protected.  Many keep photos online using accounts such as Shutterfly or have online music, eBooks and online software. Business owners may own a domain, a website and use online bill payment software.  Other virtual accounts include blogs, podcasts, online videos, and presentations.

Digital Asset Trust

While planning your estate, consider forming a trust that plans for the future of your online accounts, login information, banking information, gaming accounts, files, and other assets.  A digital asset trust is a stand alone boutique trust or part of your revocable living trust. It secures and protects business owners' virtual property. It provides a legal way for loved ones to handle your digital footprint and files appropriately in case of disability or death.  Importantly, it preserves your online legacy.

Form Your Trust Today

Today, it's equally important to think about an estate plan for digital assets. Maybe you only own digital assets and need a stand alone boutique trust. Maybe your estate plan is outdated and doesn't take care of your digital assets.  You deserve a tailored estate plan that meets your specific needs and allows your assets to provide for your loved ones after you pass away. Do you have questions? Call me at 314-332-0011 or Book your complimentary consultation Tucker Legal Services, LLC today.