These days, we're all steeped in the burdens and rewards of digital life, yet most of us haven't really thought through what will happen to all of those accounts, profiles, and files when we die. Read on to jog your memory on the many types of digital assets you own, and ask yourself whether you have a plan in place for what happens to them at your death.
Technically speaking, digital assets are any "electronic record" that you own, license, or control. This includes just about any online account or digital file that you have authority to access—email, online banking account, social media accounts, cloud storage, digital photos, and just about anything else that you access online, on your phone, or on your computer that requires a login.
"Digital assets" do not include underlying assets unless the underlying asset is itself an electronic record. So, for example, your online banking account is a digital asset, but not the money in your bank account. On the other hand, both your cloud storage account and the digital files you stored in that account are digital assets.
To get you thinking about what kinds of digital assets you'll need to plan for, below is a non-exhaustive list of assets that you might have.
Scan through this list and ask yourself: "Which of these types of digital assets do I have?" After you make an inventory, you'll want to ask:
Digital files might include documents, photos, music, playlists, videos, e-books, and contact lists, while software might include financial, legal, and tax software. Consider where you might have digital files or software stored. For example:
Visit Nolo's series on Digital Assets to learn about what happens to your digital assets when you die, as well as how you can plan ahead to ensure that the people you want to have access to your digital assets will have it. In this series of articles, we discuss which digital assets can pass through your will or trust, and which cannot. We also discuss why it's a good idea to give your executor or trustee access to your digital assets. And we help you set up a plan for all of your digital assets.