It’s OK to admit it: estate planning isn’t the most exciting thing on your list to get to. Planning your estate may make you think of paperwork, your grandmother’s attic, or other things we’d just rather avoid. The fact is, it’s important to plan for the inevitable. Planning now provides peace of mind for you and for your family. A jar full of cash in the backyard won’t cut it these days, and estate planning in the modern world requires more than sharing your bank account password. With the addition of digital assets we have more to consider now than ever before.
What are Digital Assets?
It used to be our estates consisted of lots of paperwork. Paper copies of financial information, property deeds, and other relatively accessible legal paperwork made it easier to execute an estate – even in the absence of a plan. These days, inclusion of our digital selves complicates things. Paperwork is an increasing rarity as we move more of our vital, personal information onto clouds, hard drives, and the web. Your digital footprint grows each day – accessing that information can be increasingly challenging should the unthinkable happen. Your own digital assets may include:
- Personal and professional email accounts
- Usernames and passwords for online services
- Banking and Investment Accounts
- Cloud services and other digital sharing spaces
- Social media accounts and domain names
- Intellectual property
- Online storage, and more
Sharing access to these – or at least having a plan in place – will help your family and executor manage your digital assets.
Sharing Access to Digital Assets
You can start right now by grabbing a pen and notepad. A list of user accounts and password access can give others access to your accounts in the event you are unable to yourself. A more-secure solution would be a secure digital password manager, several of which can be found online. Separating access can be important as you may have family and business accounts you wish to keep separate, etc. An estate planner can help you organize and separate your accounts, protecting your various assets and maintaining your privacy.
Planning Your Estate
It is important you plan your digital estate ahead of time to avoid probate issues, ensure proper distribution of your wealth, and protect your online identity. Determining your own digital footprint may be challenging. Many people are surprised to find what even qualifies as digital property. You can help avoid issues tomorrow with proper planning today. An estate planner can help you identify your own digital assets, and help you plan their management and distribution.
With an online password manager, you can selectively share access to your accounts. If you’re the pen-and-paper type, you’ll want a detailed record of your accounts, property, and other access information. Additionally, a record of where to find any accounts or information such as service providers, hard drives, tablets and other electronic devices. If those devices are password-protected you will need to record the access information for those as well. Once you’ve detailed the locations and access instructions for your digital estate, list your intentions for how you want them managed.
Managing Your Estate
“If found, please delete my browser history”. It’s a funny joke but do you know what will become of your digital self? Property may need to be moved, managed, or destroyed. Mutual funds, stocks, and other financial accounts still need attention. If you plan on leaving a sum to charity or another organization, planning early can significantly boost your abilities. By planning your estate early, you can remove the burden from your family, potentially eliminating stress and worry.
Bereaved families are already suffering, and the sudden burden of estate management may be too much to bear. Knowing your accounts, finances, and property are secured and protected will allow everyone to enjoy the present, focusing on what is important.
Plan Your Estate Early
It’s never too early to plan your estate. Peace of mind can go a long way for both you, and for your family. You want your family protected and secure, and we are there to help. Contact Overland & Shanahan Wealth Advisors today at 858-792-7027 for your full range of wealth management services including estate planning, investments, business services and more. Seize the day. Plan your estate today so you can live in the present knowing your family and assets are protected.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.