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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

Digital assets, like other assets, have value. Protecting these assets is an important part of estate planning. Failing to include digital assets in your estate plan could result in court battles and expenses for your heirs. A New York estate planning attorney can help you identify your digital assets and develop a strategy for including digital assets in your estate plan.

What are Digital Assets?

A digital asset is an account that you have online, such as an online bank account, PayPal account, investment account, or digital currency account. Your accounts with iTunes, Amazon Prime, and other online services are also digital assets.

However, digital assets also include any online information that you may have stored in the cloud or on an online server. It also includes your logins and passwords for all your accounts, including email and social media accounts.

All Digital Assets Have Value and Should Be Included in an Estate Plan

Even your logins and passwords have value. If your information was stolen, a thief could use it to steal your identity or set up accounts in your name. Photos, movies, books, and other items you store online have value because they could be sold.

Because all digital assets have potential value, they should be included in an estate plan. However, most people overlook these assets when drafting a traditional will and other estate documents.

There are ways to protect your digital assets and include them in your estate plan. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is one of the best ways to protect digital assets. Other ways to protect digital assets include:

1. Backup Your Hard Drive

Maintain an external hard drive for backups. Even if you use a third-party company to back up your data, it is wise to have an external hard drive backup, including a special thumb drive containing a list of all digital assets, logins, and passwords. Keep your external hard drive and thumb drive in a fireproof lockbox or safe deposit box.

2. Use a Password Manager

It is not wise to use the same login and password for online accounts. You need a separate password for each account that contains a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols. However, it can be difficult to remember your passwords. Writing them down can be risky. Use a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane to keep track of logins and passwords.

3. Invest in Quality Virus and Online Protection Software

Don’t use the free virus protection software offered when you purchase your computer. Likewise, don’t use the free versions of virus and online protection software you download from the internet. Invest in quality software programs designed to provide you with the highest level of protection for all your electronic devices, including your tablets and cell phones.

Contact a New York Estate Planning Attorney for Help

Protecting digital assets can be challenging. Including digital assets in an estate plan requires careful consideration of the assets and who you wish to be in charge of those assets upon your death or incapacitation.

A New York estate planning attorney understands the issues involved in including digital assets in an estate plan. Contact us today. Working with a qualified estate planning lawyer can help avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes people make regarding their digital assets.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.