Estate planners say few, if any, of their clients consider digital assets in their wills—an oversight that can result in real-world losses to beneficiaries. And experts say the estate-planning industry itself has been slow to adopt standards for dealing with the sort of "property" that may exist only in cyberspace.
The digital revolution has meant that we don’t live like we used to – most of us can’t live outside of a Wi-Fi hotspot, 4G network, or computer screen for longer than a couple hours. So how could we possibly plan for our estate today, as they used to before everything became virtual?
Dealing with digital assets can be a tricky business, often in ways that aren’t readily apparent. Nevertheless, digital assets are both vital and newsworthy topics for estate planning. For example, consider an article by SmartMoney titled “Protecting You Virtual Estate” and the similar article by The Wall Street Journal titled “With Estate Planning, Don’t Forget Virtual Assets.” Both are worthy of your attention.
Digital assets can range from personal data held in social websites to intellectual property, or even domain names. Then again and more importantly, a growing majority of people do their banking, investing, and tax-paying online. Is this starting to hit closer to home now?
Some aspects of our digital lives simply need real world planning, especially because few states have laws in place to account for the postmortem transfer of digital assets. Even if you’re not a tech guru with websites and special online projects, you wouldn’t want valuable information to be lost to your heirs.
If you have a digital presence, then you must plan accordingly.
SmartMoney (July 25, 2012), “Protecting You Virtual Estate”
The Wall Street Journal (July 28, 2012) “With Estate Planning, Don’t Forget Virtual Assets.”