Investment Basics: Digital Assets and Your Estate Plan

Investment Basics: Digital Assets and Your Estate Plan

February 12, 2018

By Colin OShea 
Securities Analyst  

Digital Assets and Your Estate Plan

Online banking and bill paying, virtual account statements, digital portfolio access -- the Internet has changed the way people manage their finances, their friendships, and their personal lives. But the convenience of having a virtual presence is not without drawbacks. In the absence of a paper trail, access to your financial and personal information may be possible only through your computer or another electronic device. And that presents some unique estate planning challenges.

A Complete Inventory

Disposition and transfer of digital assets requires special attention during estate planning. Digital assets are generally defined as any electronic content, information, or media. Consider creating a complete inventory -- along with Web addresses, usernames, and passwords -- that includes:

  • Computer, phone, and other devices
  • E-mail accounts
  • Financial information, such as bank, brokerage, PayPal, and other online accounts; creditors; and loans
  • Social networking profiles, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., along with instructions for deleting or maintaining your profiles
  • Blogs, web pages, domain names, and hosts
  • Photos stored on photo sharing sites

Your instructions:

In addition to creating a list, you'll need to provide instructions for transferring ownership of digital assets. You may be able to transfer ownership of some assets to an entity, such as a corporation, partnership, or LLC, set up for that purpose. In addition, online storage accounts can provide a means for cataloging digital assets so that a designated individual can identify and access them.

Planning Ahead

As one's online presence grows, the need for including digital assets in estate planning becomes more critical. Creating a comprehensive inventory of assets and the means to access them can prevent potentially substantial financial losses for your family or estate that might occur if digital accounts are overlooked or inaccessible.

If you need any help contact Security National Bank Wealth Management team today. 

About the Author

Colin O'Shea

Colin O'Shea is a Securities Analyst within the Wealth Management Division at Security National Bank, where he researches and analyzes assets and trade securities and helps develop investment strategies. A veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 12 years, O'Shea holds a Business Administration Degree from Morningside College.