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Protecting Digital Assets in a Will

Digital assets can be valuable in a number of ways. Often, some digital assets may have sentimental value, such as personal photos and videos stored online. Other digital assets, such as online marketplaces, e-wallets, and digital currencies, may have financial value.

For example, an individual’s digital currency portfolio, such as Bitcoin, may have significant financial value, and it’s important to consider how this asset will be managed and distributed after their death. Similarly, an individual’s online marketplace account, such as an eBay account with a high feedback rating and a large number of positive transactions, may have financial value as a valuable business asset.

Should You List Your Digital Assets in a Will?

Yes, it’s a good idea to include your digital assets in your will. Digital assets refer to online accounts, such as social media profiles, email accounts, online storage, and cryptocurrencies. While these assets may have both sentimental and financial value, it’s important to specify how you would like them to be managed and distributed after your death.

Here Are Some of the Most Common Online Assets in a Will

  1. Social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  2. Email accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.)
  3. Online storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.)
  4. Online marketplaces (eBay, Amazon, etc.)
  5. E-wallets and digital currencies (PayPal, Bitcoin, etc.)
  6. Online subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, etc.)
  7. Domains and websites owned
  8. Personal blogs and forums
  9. Photos and videos stored online
  10. Personal data stored in the cloud or online databases

When Including Digital Assets in a Will, Consider These Factors:

  1. It’s important to consider the value of your digital assets and include them in your estate planning.
  2. Account Information: Make a list of your digital assets, including login information and passwords. It’s important to keep this information secure and accessible to your executor.
  3. Designated Beneficiaries: Decide who you would like to receive control of your digital assets after your death.
  4. Accessibility: Consider the process for accessing your digital assets and ensure that your executor has the necessary information and authorization to do so.
  5. Privacy: Consider the privacy implications of granting access to your digital assets and make any necessary provisions in your will to protect your privacy.

If you don’t name a specific beneficiary for these digital assets, they will pass to your residuary beneficiary or beneficiaries.

You may also be able use your will to transfer digital assets that you have licensed, like a domain name or a copyright, but this depends on whether the terms of the licensing agreement allow transfer at death. Because of this, you’ll want to check your agreements and see a lawyer if you have concerns.

Digital Assets That Cannot Pass Through Your Will

In practical terms, most of your digital assets won’t be transferred through your will. This is because you don’t have the authority to transfer them. Even if they hold sentimental or monetary value for you or your family, if you don’t own or have the right to transfer them upon death, they cannot be included in your will. A good example of this is email and social media accounts. Technically, you don’t own these accounts, you only have a license to use them, and your ability to transfer them to someone else is restricted by the terms you agreed to when you opened the account.

Examples of digital assets that won’t pass through your will:

  • Email and social media accounts
  • Non-transferable domains that you’ve licensed
  • Subscription accounts like Netflix or Spotify
  • Apps on your phone or tablet (and the data they contain)

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