The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us plenty, including that the internet is essential to modern life and that many of our daily activities can be conducted digitally. Looking back, this should come as no surprise; after all, if much of our social life transferred easily to online spaces, why doubt that the same could happen to our work life? Months after millions of people were sent home to work remotely, it turns out that, indeed, there was little reason to think the internet would struggle to support our professional lives any more than our social ones.
This massive exodus from physical to digital landscapes is transforming estate planning. No longer are your assets the grand sum of the objects you own. Unless, of course, you count your Instagram as an object… though, that might be a conversation better addressed to metaphysician than an attorney.
Enter Digital Assets
In the simplest terms, your digital assets are the online records you own. This means everything from a your Youtube subscriber base to your outdated travel blog. In some instances, these assets are worthless; in others, they are of inestimable value, financial and otherwise. Industry leaders know this well and protect their digital assets as fervently as they would cash. Families who have lost years of memories stored on a loved one’s devices likewise know what we’re talking about.
Most digital assets belong to one of the following categories.
- Online rewards programs, such a points systems for returning shoppers.
- Electronic communications, such as email and social media accounts.
- Digital collections, such as photographs, videos, and music files stored online.
Protect Your Digital Assets
There is no catch-all approach to protecting your digital goods. Because the internet is such a vast landscape with multitude uses, only an experienced estate planning attorney can confidently advise on the approach best-suited to you. Nonetheless, one proactive step you can take is listing your online accounts and storing relevant access information in a secure place. Additionally, you will want to appoint a digital executor: someone in whom you feel comfortable entrusting legal access to important accounts. Now is the time to begin thinking about who this might be.
The new normal we, at large, are settling into has forced a revaluation of many aspects of our lives. Foremost among this is the role digital platforms will play in our day-to-day moving forward. In anticipation of this pivot, now, more than ever, is a good time to begin thinking about online goods as just as worthy of protection as physical objects.
For more on this, don’t hesitate to give us a call!