Estate Planning – the Digital Age

It used to be that you could just go through the files and mail to determine your (or a decedent’s) assets. This is no longer the case today.

A necessary part for estate planning and estate administration is knowing your assets and how to access them. However, in the digital age, it’s not as easy as going through a file cabinet and watching the mail.

I came across an article and thought I would share a few points to consider to help make estate planning and administration in the digital age go more smoothly:

  • Accounts and statements may be entirely digital.  Statements may be emailed or accessed entirely online making it difficult to identify and administer these accounts.
  • Bills can be invoiced and paid entirely online, again making it difficult to determine your creditors. This can make administering and closing an estate more complicated and expensive.
  • “Digital” assets may go overlooked. You may own a domain name that is worth $50,000 or a virtual/game profile that could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. These are valuable assets that can be easily overlooked.

To address these issues and better ensure efficient estate planning and administration, it is a good idea to:

  1. Have a list of these assets and accounts for anyone who may be administering your estate (consider including your email accounts on this list). Whether it’s a written list of assets you keep in a safe or a list that is maintained on an online (cloud) database, its a good idea to have such a list and keep it (somewhat) updated.
  2. Keep the list updated with your login information and password information. This allows the people you have chosen to administer your estate to access these accounts without overcomplicating things.
  3. Choose an Executor or Trustee whom you trust to have this access. It is also a good idea to select someone who is technologically savvy and who would be comfortable dealing with such assets.