If you’re reading this, you have digital assets. Anyone with a computer attached to the internet conducts a portion of their life online. This means that whether through email, online banking, social media, investing, or buying real estate in the Metaverse, you own valuable digital property.
What Defines Digital Property?
The idea of property being digital is peculiar for anyone who grew up collecting marbles and trading baseball cards. That something you cannot touch carries enormous value, be it sentimental or monetary, is a bizarre concept when you really sit with it, and yet that is the nature of the 21st Century.
The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) defines a digital asset as “an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest. The term does not include an underlying asset or liability unless the asset or liability is itself an electronic record.”
This broad definition includes social media and email accounts, blogs, digital photo albums and videos, electronic financial information, loyalty program benefits, online medical records, cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and almost anything else created and stored electronically.
However odd, many of these items carry enormous value. Maintaining a popular Instagram account is a full-time job for countless people worldwide. A single Bitcoin is worth over $40,000 even on a bad day and NFTs frequently sell for millions if not tens of millions of dollars. These are outlier cases, though.
Most digital assets are not worth a fortune and yet are vitally important. More and more these days people store not just memories but pieces of who they are online. A generation or two ago, dad’s diaries may have been the item of greatest sentimental value in his estate; these days the same may be true of his Twitter feed.
Even if you are not on social media, don’t carry crypto assets, and aren’t otherwise plugged in, you likely carry digital assets in the form of online banking accounts and important computer files.
Digital Property and Estate Planning
Digital property should be accounted for in your estate plan in the same way as physical property. That is, you should speak to your estate planning attorney about the use, management, and disposition of a digital asset in the same way you would speak to them about a vehicle or work of art.
The first step to planning around digital assets is inventorying what you own. Begin by making a list including usernames and passwords of all online accounts. Ensure you include your social media profiles, email, financial accounts, streaming services, digital storage, and so on.
Next, with everything in front of you, think about what you wish to pass on, what you wish to preserve, and what should come of the rest. Take time to also consider who should manage your digital assets and whether this person has the tech knowledge needed to do so.
With all of this information in hand, the final step to planning around digital assets is to seek counsel from an experienced estate planning attorney. Legislation governing access to digital assets is everchanging and sometimes contradictory and so it is especially important that you work with an experienced professional.
To learn more about planning with your digital assets in mind or to address any other topic related to estate planning, do not hesitate to reach out to the Deliberato Law Center today either by calling us at (216) 341-3413 or using the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center