Articles Posted in Digital Assets

pocket-watch-3156771_640-300x200“The client wanted her surviving spouse to have access to her work email, but her employer shut down the email account following her death.”

This is one of those situations that does not have a happy ending. A woman died unexpectedly, and her employer shut down her email immediately after her death. Her surviving spouse knew that the woman had wanted him to have access to her emails, but it was too late. Continue reading

pexels-photo-267350-300x218“As our lives become more and more connected online, we increasingly need to also consider what to do with the digital estate, the online accounts of our dearly departed, many of which hold photos and personal memories, as well as sensitive financial information.”

Settling the estate of a loved family member or dear friend is a challenging and emotionally wearing process, reports The-Parallax in the article “How to settle your loved one’s digital estate.” If an estate plan is in place, some things are easier. However, even then, there are possessions to sort through, assets to distribute and many tasks that need to be done. Now, add digital assets to that list. Continue reading

digital assetsEstate planning must now include intangible assets that didn’t exist just a few years ago, as well as those that have been around since people started owning private property. Today, says Forbes in the article “Estate Planning for Crypto And Other Digital Assets: What You Need to Know,” there are new kinds of property and new laws that govern them.

Some of the old rules still apply and you need a trust or a will. One of the things in that trust or will, needs to be naming a trustee or executor who will be in charge of ensuring that your assets are distributed, according to the wishes you state in your trust or will. When it comes to digital assets, things get a little tricky. Continue reading

pexels-photo-1193603-300x200Ensuring that your property is appropriately managed and disbursed upon your incapacity or death, is no longer limited to physical or financial property. Your estate plan now needs to include digital assets, the online accounts that are in your name, says the Journal of Financial Planning in the article “Don’t Forget Digital Assets in Estate Planning.”

If your will or trust hasn’t been updated in the past few years, chances are good it has no provision for your digital assets. This could create a larger problem than you’d think. Bank accounts, investment accounts and small business records stored in the cloud may not be accessible to heirs. That doesn’t even include sentimental items: treasured photos and videos that never made it to paper or your computer’s hard drive. Continue reading

pexels-photo-335907-300x201There are some clear benefits to storing your will and documents online. You and your spouse (or other authorized people) can access them anytime, from anywhere. We are used to putting our lives online.  However, there are also some downsides to consider before doing so, according to a helpful article from CNBC titled “Here’s what you need to know before storing your will online.”

It’s good to have all your important documents in one place. Make sure that the people who will need access, such as executors, know that you’ve done so or the cloud storage may well be pointless.

Online storage can also facilitate family conversations about estate planning. Even tech savvy adult children who scoff at parents who don’t engage in social media, will be impressed by a decision to go digital.

However, there are pitfalls. Continue reading

digital-nightmare-1160104-640x480-300x225“What will happen to my online accounts, such as email, social media and digital music services, when I die?”

So much of our lives is lived online, that we don’t give it a second thought—until a person with an active digital life passes away. Then what happens? According to this article from the American Bar Association’s Real Property | Trust and Estate Law Section titled “Digital Property FAQs,” it’s not as simple as logging in using your family member or friend’s user name and password.

What happens to digital accounts after a person passes, depends upon the laws in your state and the terms of service the user agreed to when opening an account with each digital platform. Just because you are the executor or personal representative of the decedent, does not automatically give you access to their online accounts. The decedent must have given you specific consent following the rules of that social media platform. Continue reading

pexels-photo-315788-300x225Estate planning is only effective if it includes all of your assets. In most cases this is not a big deal. Major assets like your home have a deed that clearly establishes legal title. Other liquid assets such as a brokerage account are maintained by a trusted third party that must follow certain regulatory standards.

How Cryptocurrencies Work Continue reading

digital assetsProbate in Wisconsin has traditionally dealt with two kinds of property – the physical and the intangible. The latter, intangible, refers to assets like bank accounts or stocks that lack a physical form yet serve as a defined store of value.

These days there is another, distinct type of intangible property that we all possess in one form or another: digital property. This encompasses everything from your email to your iTunes account with thousands of downloaded songs and videos. Up until recently, figuring out what happened with your digital property upon death meant looking at the terms of service for every company with which you do business. In other words, Facebook may say one thing when it comes to whether or not your estate can access your profile post-death, while Google may say something completely different with respect to the fate of your Gmail account. Continue reading

Many people don’t like to talk about death but they will if it has anything to do with protecting their assets – including digital assets. Digital assets are your online accounts, digital currencies, online accounts, passwords, digital files, user names, and any Terms of Service Agreements (TOSA) that you signed. With the growth of digital technology and Estate Planning in the Digital Ageuse, these assets are expected to be worth over US$5 billion by year 2020. You will need and should have a will drawn up to protect these assets either after death or in case of incapacity to ensure that your loved ones gain legal access to these assets.

The First Step: Assigning Assets

Before anything else, you will have to list down all your digital and traditional assets since your will or estate documents will incorporate all assets. You will need a fiduciary, an executor for your traditional assets, a personal agent with power of attorney in case of incapacity to make decisions, and a trustee. These are the individuals chosen by you to manage all your assets according to your wishes so it is important to select them wisely.

The main issue facing digital assets is the fact that they are not tangible assets and exist primarily on the Internet. The individual tasked to manage your digital assets will have to deal with extenuating circumstances far different because these digital assets may or may not have monetary value. In fact, they are valuable to you because they represent something sentimental to you like a memory or a milestone.

The Second Step: Understanding the Laws on Digital Assets
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