Richard McGinnis Staff
How To Incorporate Your Digital Life Into Your Estate Plan
One aspect of your estate plan and creating your will and trust that people forget about is incorporating your digital life and assets into the equation. Our lives are an intricate web of digital accounts, online banking, social media sites, domain names, emails, websites and more logins and passwords than you can count. So what happens to your digital life after death? You can leave a legacy and inheritance of a stock portfolio and crypto assets to your beneficiaries, or have family continue operating your business, but what happens if they can't login to your accounts, website or your hot or cold wallets? Will you leave behind a digital mess, even with an estate plan?
While working with a qualified trust attorney in Roseville like The Law Offices of Richard W. McGinnis, you can put together an estate plan that incorporates your digital life. During your free estate planning consultation, we will take inventory of all of your assets including your digital assets. Part of the creation of your will and revocable living trust creation includes creating a letter of your personal belongings to leave to beneficiaries. As an addendum, you can include a list of accounts and logins for them, or instructions to a more secure password vault or manager.
It's important to have an open line of communications with heirs, beneficiaries and family and friends. Beyond a conversion, you should document where you keep all your important paperwork including insurance policies, and even the final estate plan binder and flash drive that is created as a result of working with Roseville estate planning attorney Richard W. McGinnis.
Other tips for including your digital life into your estate plan include:
If you have a portfolio of assets including stocks or cryptocurrency on digital platforms such as Robinhood, Coinbase, Webull, Uphold and more, be sure to mention it to your qualified trust attorney.
Be sure to change the ownership name of the digital assets, just as you would your bank account, into the name of the trust and fund the trust with them.
Remember that who you designate to be an executor, will also ultimately have access an authority to your digital assets unless you specify otherwise in the will you create with The Law Offices of Richard W. McGinnis.
Most states have some form of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, granting access to domains, crypto currency and computer files with proof of being an executor. However forgetting to list digital assets or not providing passwords may prohibit their access. Importantly, this law does not include email, text and social media without specific permission in a will, trust, power of attorney or court order.
Consider setting up an IRA as the beneficiary of your portfolio, not only for tax benefits, but for ease of incorporation into your estate plan.
How Beneficiaries Can Access Your Digital Life After Death
So now that you've considered all that your digital life entails and know you need to factor it into the creation of your will and revocable living trust, you may be wondering what some of the best ways are to make access easy for loved ones in your estate plan. When the time comes, the last thing you want is for family to have another fight on their hands in a red tape nightmare trying to access your accounts with customer service representatives, going through failed attempts at guessing passwords, getting locked out of accounts and tearing up your house looking for information that should be in your estate planning documents.
Particularly if you own a business, remember that your website and social media pages are considered property. To ensure continuity for business succession with family or those taking over your business, consider getting a multi-year extended lease of your domain name and hosting. Add those who would be successors to vendor and supplier accounts and essential business operation entities. Consider including instructions in your estate plan on how to login, renew, edit and maintain your website and online properties so your business can continue moving forward and customers aren't left empty-handed.
Top 5 Tips For Leaving A Legacy of Access To Your Digital Life Are:
Include documenting the password to get into your phone and email. Phone and email access is the key to passing two factor security authentication for most online accounts, without them, it will be very difficult to move forward.
Consider adding your successor's name to your digital accounts or give them access to a secondary login.
Consider loading a flash drive with a document listing an inventory of important websites and their logins. Include the flash drive in the personal belongings to bequeath in your estate plan created with Richard McGinnis.
If you're still writing down logins with pen and paper. Considering getting a password book. Like an address book that has alphabet dividers to enter information by the first letter of the name, there are books like this now that you can use for the name of the website instead of the person, and has lines to enter the login information.
Social media platforms and Google now have afterlife options in their settings so you can decide now what happens with those accounts.
Need help making an estate plan inclusive of your digital assets? You need a free estate planning consultation with estate planning attorney Richard W. McGinnis in Roseville. Available virtually or in-person by appointment Monday – Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. Call and speak to Office Manager Diane for an appointment today to 916-784-6377.
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