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Estate planning for digital assets

When many Oklahoma residents consider their estate planning needs, the focus is placed on how one's tangible assets will be distributed after death. We talk about investments and savings, cash and real estate. When working through the various estate planning options, it is important to remember that not all items of value are held in financial accounts or pieces of tangible property. Digital assets are also of concern to many families.

Digital assets are items of value that are stored or accessed online. Examples include online photo storage sites, online bank accounts and even social media sites. When no provisions are made that directly address these assets, family members are often left with no ability to access or gather these resources.

Of course, not all digital assets are created equally, and each family has a unique set of needs when it comes to these matters. It may be far more important to have access to funds within a PayPal account than it is to be able to sign into a loved one's blog. For other families, thousands of photos stored online are a top priority, and being able to access those images and archive them is important.

No matter what type of assets are held online, the first step in addressing this estate planning need is the creation of a comprehensive list of accounts. The list should include the user name and passwords for each, as well as the web address where the account can be found. It may also be useful to draft a document that names a successor who is granted access to all online accounts, which that individual can forward to the appropriate site administration, if the need should arise. Perhaps the greatest source of value for Oklahoma families who complete this step is the peace of mind that loved ones have in knowing that all digital assets have been properly accounted for.    

Source:, "Digital estate planning, how to manage your assets before you die", Keely Arthur, May 3, 2015

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