Digital estate planning is the new form of estate planning services in San Diego and around the country. It is the process of organizing digital property and assets and creating a plan for how they will be distributed upon death.
Benefits of Digital Estate Plans
Today, most consumers have digital assets. Though, they may not realize that they exist. Digital assets include everything from online storage accounts to bank and social media accounts.
Historically, estate planning services in San Diego focused more on trusts, power of attorney documents, life insurance, Medicare planning, and of course the will. The property included in these records were physical property the testator owned, such as financial accounts, real estate, and family heirlooms.
These items were traditionally collected in paper form, then collected into a folder or binder. They are stored in one’s safe, file cabinet, or in a professional’s office. They are there for family members to find upon the testator’s death.
Today, more estate planning is moving toward digitization. Even documentation for accounts and deeds are being scanned and stored digitally. However, these are not digital assets. Digital assets are what consumers save online or in the cloud. Consumers often manage their business, financial and personal lives online. They have accounts all over the internet, but few have organized these accounts.
This makes distributing and managing these assets tough for beneficiaries. After a person has died, family members may not have access to digital assets and some may not be aware of what digital assets even exist. Some of these assets may be tied to the family’s finances or possibly even a business.
Main Steps of Creating a Digital Estate Plan
When enlisting the help of estate planning services in San Diego, testators should consider digital assets. They can do this by following several steps:
- Creating a Detailed List of All Digital Assets
This assists their attorney in creating an itemized list of digital assets. Digital assets include information stored electronically, online accounts, domain names owned, intellectual property, computer hardware, and software, etc.
Next, a testator must create a sheet of access information. This includes the primary website for login, username, password and any associated security questions. This will ensure the executor of the digital estate has access to these assets.
- Creating a Plan
A testator must know what they want to do with their property for their attorney to include them in their estate plan. They may wish to give certain assets to a beneficiary while preserving online accounts for a different beneficiary.
Also, special wishes about how these assets are handled must be considered. For example, does a testator wish to have their online social media accounts closed upon their death? Do they prefer them remain active so that friends and family can look back at them?
Digital bank accounts will need to be closed out and transferred into the names of the designated beneficiaries; therefore, the testator must decide how they want these items transferred.
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