The modern world has changed estate planning in some important ways: Preparing for what will happen to your ‘digital assets’ is extremely important. Here, our Northeast Ohio estate planning attorney provides an overview of digital assets and explains key things you need to know about digital assets and estate planning.
What are Digital Assets?
A digital asset is something that exists in an electronic form and comes with attached property rights. In other words, it is something you own that is not physical. In practice, a digital asset can come in a wide variety of specific forms — some with significant monetary value and others with largely sentimental value. Three important categories of digital assets are as follows:
- Electronic Assets with Clear Financial Value: Some digital assets have clear, straightforward monetary value. For example, if you own a bitcoin or another type of cryptocurrency, that is a digital asset that has real market value. Other digital assets that fall into this category are business assets. If you own a company that has a website, that website and the domain name have tangible financial value.
- Access to Accounts: Next, access to accounts and records are important digital assets. This includes everything from the information needed to get into your investment accounts and frequent flyer accounts, to passwords and access to email accounts and social media accounts.
- Other Online Data and Information: Finally, other digital assets and information may have important value to you but may not constitute marketable assets. The best example of this is probably family photographs — which are now frequently stored in a purely digital format. Other examples could include things like ancestry research.
Estate Planning and Digital Assets: Three Things You Must Consider
Beyond identifying all your relevant digital assets, it is crucial you create a comprehensive estate plan that addresses how this property will be handled. When considering digital assets and estate planning, it is important the following three issues are considered:
- Access: To start, you should put in place a plan that allows your loved ones and estate administrators to get into your accounts. Under Ohio law (Ohio Rev. Code § 2137), there are now regulations in place regarding estate planning and account access. It is a good idea to talk about this issue with your family and your attorney.
- Distribution: Next, your estate plan should distribute any digital assets of value in an effective and efficient manner. Whether you are dividing assets with clear monetary value, such as frequent flyer miles, or sentimental value, it is imperative you have a proper plan in place.
- Instructions: Finally, it is also recommended you leave instructions for what should happen to certain assets. As an example, your estate plan should address what you want to do with social media accounts. Do you want an announcement made? Should the accounts be taken down or kept up? These instructions can be included within your estate plan.
Get Help from Our Cortland, OH Estate Planning Lawyer Today
At The Law Office of John C. Grundy, our Ohio estate planning attorney is an attentive, effective advocate for clients. If you have any questions about digital assets and estate planning, we can help. To set up a free, completely private consultation, please contact our law firm right away. From our law office in Cortland, we serve communities throughout Northeast Ohio, including in Warren, Youngstown, Boardman and Middletown.