How to plan for the future of your online life
Every time you open a new account, send an email, snap a picture, book a flight, make a purchase or post a comment, you’re creating a new digital asset. Now it’s time to learn how to protect them.
What’s a digital asset?
Think of a digital asset as any information stored electronically, either online or on a device. This includes text, images, multimedia and personal property stored in a digital format – as well as any words, characters, codes or contractual rights necessary to access that digital content.
4 common types of digital assets
Information stored on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Digital assets that can include photos, videos, emails, music, and other information stored on your personal devices, as well as blogs, home security systems, loyalty programs, gaming assets, and usernames and passwords stored throughout your browser.
Login credentials, credit card numbers, and bank account information saved on online shopping sites, bill pay sites, such as PayPal, as well as virtual currencies and U.S. Savings Bonds.
Resources that can encompass domain names, blogs, patient/customer information, merchant seller information, intellectual property, and digital file storage.
A great deal of confusion can occur when an owner is no longer able to manage his or her assets due to either incapacity or death. These are the main obstacles to be aware of.
Preparing for digital afterlife
The online world has become the center of our daily transactions. It's where we work, play and get together. Here are some questions to ask yourself about what happens to your digital life when you're no longer able to navigate it.
- Have I prepared a digital roadmap for my family and others to follow?
- Will my family/heirs know about the digital assets I've created and how to access them?
- Will my family/heirs be able to manage my digital assets in a manner that meets my intended objectives?
- What will happen to my digital legacy?
Have a guide to all your various assets, choose a digital steward to keep them safe and your family will have a digital roadmap to follow.
5 steps to plan for your digital assets
When it comes to digital assets, you can make things easier for your family/heirs by simplifying the work of your appointed agent or executor. In addition, planning ahead may help prevent losses to the estate while avoiding unexpected costs. Addressing your digital footprint will help ensure that your personal story remains alive while keeping any sensitive information protected. Consider these five steps:
- Prepare a personal digital inventory (you can use our Digital Inventory Worksheet to get started).
- Create a roadmap for your family
- Be sure your digital inventory and roadmap are properly and securely stored.
- Update and back up the digital inventory regularly.
- Update your Power of Attorney and your Will to include your digital assets.