Including Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

by | Nov 18, 2022

Because of the shear volume of your online and digital assets, it might take some time to generate a complete inventory, but it is worth the effort.  In the event of your death or incapacity, either your estate planning attorney or another trusted person should be able to access to your online footprint.
In order to gain access, this person will need the usernames and passwords for all accounts. There are digital tools such as Dashlane or your internet browser’s password manager that can be useful to simplify the storage and retrieval of usernames and passwords.

In addition, you should regularly back up all of your digital assets, including photos and important documents.  The most effective way is to copy them into a cloud-based storage system.  Then you need to make sure that your attorney or other trusted party can gain access to your backups when necessary.

NFTs and cryptocurrency are even more significant.  These assets can represent significant monetary value and are, by their very nature, difficult to access.  The organizations controlling these assets are neither governments nor banks, so cryptocurrency and NFTs must be handled especially carefully.

If the password or passphrase for a digital asset ‘wallet’ is lost there is no option of contacting “customer service” to reset the password.  NFT and cryptocurrency passwords should be stored online in a “hot wallet,” or in an offline device known as a “cold wallet.”  Regardless of storage method, someone should be able to access these passwords and accounts when you cannot.

Other estate planning considerations for digital assets include:

  • Your estate plan should provide that your digital possessions be handled by one or more successors who can manage and distribute your digital assets like the rest of your tangible property.
  • You can divide up the responsibility, allowing one “cyber-successor” control of your Instagram account, while another would take possession of your Bitcoin.
  • Do not write your passwords down in your will, especially regarding cryptocurrency. When you pass away, your will may be lodged with the Court and become visible in a publicly available document.
  • When choosing your successor, consider how technologically savvy that person is before appointing them. Your passwords and accounts will not be of any use to someone who does not understand their importance and value.

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