These days, most people in Maryland and across the country can carry their lives in their pockets. Their smartphones likely have numerous apps that allow them to quickly access personal, financial, social and work-related information with the tap of a finger. While this may make life easier in some ways, it also means that individuals are acquiring more digital assets than they may realize. As a result, it could be easy to overlook those assets when estate planning.
It is common for the first things to come to mind when thinking about distributing assets to be tangible and valuable assets. For example, many people think about their house or their car or even the money in their bank account. However, these days, people could have valuable and sentimental assets online that family members cannot access unless given permission or provided a password. This is why it is essential for individuals to remember to include that information in their estate plans.
The following steps could help those starting to plan get their digital assets in order:
- Create an inventory that lists social media accounts, investment and bank accounts, online photo storage accounts, email accounts, medical records, and anything else that may be kept in a digital format that family members may need or want to access.
- Review and list any digital liabilities, which could include automatic drafts set up for bills, subscription accounts and more.
- Check to see if digital accounts allow for beneficiary designations and name beneficiaries to those accounts.
- Consider creating a trust to protect digital assets from creditors and other claimants.
- Create a log of usernames and passwords to give to the executor for easy access to important accounts.
While it may not be impossible for loved ones to access digital assets after a person’s passing without this information, it could make it immensely more difficult for them. Plus, in some cases, website operators will not allow access to a deceased individual’s account at all. As a result, Maryland residents may want to remember their digital assets when estate planning to help their loved ones avoid unnecessary difficulties.