Have you thought about your online assets? What will you leave behind in your digital world, should you die?
An asset is something of value that a person owns. There are different categories of assets, such as tangible, intangible and digital. Yes, digital was added to the asset list.
Tangibles can be anything from houses to bank accounts, even family photos. Intangibles are things like copyrights, patents, and everything else that is not physical, or that ‘brands’ you or your company.
Digital assets are electronic items that are either on your computer or on a website. They are things like business documents, blogs, domain names, online businesses, PayPal accounts, online investment accounts, even profiles on social media sites.
These are things that are lingering out in cyberspace that will possibly not be found or bequeathed to your family, should you die, without the proper steps taken.
Realizing that your online accounts are assets is what will determine their future. Think about your domains and the advertising revenue coming from AdSense? What about your PayPal account and your blogs revenue? Will your family know what to do with all of these things to ensure your work will benefit them? What about your photos in Flickr or Facebook? The half-finished novel stored in Google Docs or elsewhere? Will your family know how to access all of them?
Your Digital Will
Generally, when assets are not located or claimed, the government steps in and basically takes them. Have you heard of sites like “unclaimed money” where many bank and financial accounts have money sitting in them – that was never claimed? Most likely because the member died and not a soul knew that money was there.
That is why a ‘Digital Will’ along with digital asset management is so important – so that things that are valuable – do not lie unclaimed or dormant in cyberspace.
Start by checking into an account guardian:
An account guardian allows users to make a list of all of their digital assets, and designate one or two people as executors, to manage it after death, making certain that all of your cash and other assets get transferred to your heirs, as well as closing accounts.
Entrustit.com has this very important product under the name Account Guardian.
Create a Digital Will
The digital will is probably the most important document to aid your family in finding all of your digital assets.
Many people amend their existing will to include their digital assets, or create one online through sites such as LegacyLocker.com, or Entrustit.com
Even sites such as Ziggur.org can manage your online presence, offering your family relief during their loss, and keep all of your digital assets and digital life in one place. Ziggur offers all information stored using only one password, which is convenient because keeping a password list can become outdated as much as we change passwords.
This list is essential to a good Digital Will, because it lists every item that has anything to do with your online life. It should include photos, videos, investment and bank accounts, memberships, income possibilities, PayPal account, domain names and whatever else has to do with your digital life.
This document should be the biggest part of your digital legacy and stored somewhere safe for your family to access.
Power of Attorney:
This legal document allows an executor or family member to act on your behalf should you die, or become incapacitated. They need to be prepared prior to death.
A legal representative, preferably the one who designed your Living Will or Trust will need to prepare one, as they need to be notarized and in legal format.
Make sure you name at least 2 people, in case one predeceases the other.
Choose one or two close family members or friends, as executors for your Digital and your Living Will/Trust. They will be responsible for carrying out your wishes, and can ensure the smooth transition for family members receiving your assets in a legal and uncomplicated manner.
Not only will they be the representatives of your wishes, they will act as the distributor of your assets, eliminating the typical scrambling and confusion of family members.
These are the basic steps that will save your assets from becoming state property, as well as offer your peace of mind. Family will need to be guided, and showing that you are responsible enough to have your affairs in order, will leave a lasting impression for them.
Take the time to look into some of these options, and get started. We never know what tomorrow brings.
What do You Think?
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a Digital Will? Will you get a Digital Will? Why or why not?
Share in the comments below.