Articles Tagged with Digital Assets

With the emergence of cryptocurrency, many questions have arisen, including the impact of cryptocurrency on everyday life and the economy. However, whether someone has a small amount of Bitcoin or millions in cryptocurrency assets, many individuals do not consider how cryptocurrency assets should be incorporated into an estate plan. Incorporating cryptocurrency into an estate plan allows assets to be protected and ensures these digital goods are passed along after a person has died. Below are common questions and explanations about cryptocurrency and its role in the estate planning process.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Although the word “cryptocurrency” is used often, not many people know what cryptocurrency actually is. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency based on a network distributed across computers, and it is nearly impossible to counterfeit. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, meaning they operate outside the control of governments. Bitcoin is the most well-known of the cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency is accessed through a private key, which is usually a password that only the owner of the cryptocurrency knows. Without knowing the private key, an individual cannot access, buy, or sell the money. Alternatively, some brokerage houses allow investors to purchase cryptocurrency through their existing accounts.

How Can I Incorporate Cryptocurrency into My Estate Plan?

Because cryptocurrency is digital, it is essential for individuals to include instructions in their estate plan on how to access these assets. Otherwise, if the person dies, the funds may be lost forever—or it may take years to regain access. Estate planning attorneys recommend including a list of all cryptocurrency assets an individual has, along with detailed information about the cryptocurrency’s private key and login information. This will allow beneficiaries to access digital assets and ensure they are not lost forever.

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7.3.19Digital property needs to be addressed in your estate plan just as tangible assets like real estate. Not planning for a digital afterlife is increasingly important.

How many hours do you spend on your smart phone, laptop or desktop, busy with work emails, personal emails, social media platforms, gaming, networking and more? In addition to the time spent, chances are good you have many digital properties: photos, music, financial accounts and more. Today’s estate plan needs to include your digital afterlife.

Without a clear plan in place, it can be a major headache for your family when you pass away, says The Street in the recent article, “Estate Planning in a Digital World.”

5.21.19With the average American owning more than 100 online accounts, we now have to address the issue of digital estate planning. It’s not as simple as gathering up the sticky notes with passwords that adorn your desk.

What would happen if you died unexpectedly and your executor needed to access your bank and investment accounts? If you’ve gone paperless for everything from bank accounts to investments to cable bills, how will they be able to gain access to your accounts? Welcome to the age of digital estate planning.

Kiplinger’s recent story, Your Estate Plan Isn't Complete Without Fixing the Password Problem,” says that having online access to investments is a great convenience for us. We can monitor bank balances, conduct stock trades, transfer funds and many other services that not long ago required the help of another person.

Pen-calendar-to-do-checklistTo make sure that your wishes are carried out, you’ll have to do your homework. Make sure that you cover these most important documents.

The last thing you want to do, is leave a bureaucratic mess for your loved ones when you die. Not only will it cause the family stress during a difficult time, it could change how your family thinks of you. That should be more than enough reason to get this done in advance!

US News & World Report’s recent article, “12 Documents to Prepare Now for Your Heirs,” says that when people don't have their paperwork ready, it can be a huge headache for the family. A family can be left with all kinds of paperwork to sort out while dealing with grief. Even worse, heirs may forfeit life insurance proceeds and tax deductions or overlook accounts they don't know exist. That's why it's critical to have important documents ready for loved ones. Here are the documents you should start preparing right away:

8.28.18Whether your estate plan documents are stored in the cloud or a filing cabinet, make sure to tell your family members, representatives and executors where you’ve placed these important documents.

Chances are you spend a lot more time online with your digital assets than you think. With digital assets and our comfort level with life online growing daily, it’s a matter of time before your start wondering about placing your documents in the cloud. However, as noted by CNBC in a recent article, “Here's what you need to know before storing your will online,” there are pros and cons to this brave new world.

Some of the benefits to storing important information online, include portability and ease of access. Your documents will be available anywhere there’s an internet connection.

1.23.18With few exceptions, most of us are living digital lives. That includes basics like sharing family news on social media and storing photos in the cloud, as well as financial information. Your digital life needs to be part of your estate plan, now more than ever before.

Your executor and your heirs are likely to run into trouble if you don’t have a digital estate plan, advises a recent Morningstar article, “Do You Have a Plan for Your Digital 'Estate'?”

The article reminds us that not every aspect of an estate will be addressed quickly, even six months later. This includes questions about how to handle the files on the decedent’s computer or the stuff on his smartphone. His social media accounts may also still be up and running.

Top secret keyToday’s millennials understand that their digital assets, which include everything from family movies hosted in the cloud, to social media accounts, digital currencies like Bitcoin and domain names, have value that can be passed to others when they die. One young man created a will that listed all of his digital assets and used a password manager to gather all passwords in a central location. He gave the password manager to his brother, who is his estate executor. He also moved certain digital assets, particularly photos and movies, to a file sharing service so that other family members would have access to them in the event of his demise.

Many people neglect to include digital effects in their estate plans, which can be a huge mistake, as valuable assets may go unnoticed, or money and time might be spent attempting to find them.

There are some assets like digital currencies, video game characters, and Internet domain names that exist only in cyberspace. You can’t put these in a safety deposit box: they can be overlooked because they aren’t as tangible. These days, folks are acquiring more digital assets like Facebook photos or email addresses all the time. However, getting access to social media accounts can be difficult because laws governing digital assets vary by state. Online sites concerned with user privacy have drastically different terms and conditions that sometimes exclude executors.

MP900446463Recognizing the ever-growing concern over managing online accounts of deceased loved ones, Google has changed the options on their support page regarding access to a deceased user's account.  We're glad to see that Google allows survivors to manage their loved one's accounts in the event of death, especially when clear instructions may not have been left behind by the deceased.  You may visit the  updated page to review the various options available to family members or those individuals interested in planning their own estates.

Earlier this month our blog discussed Facebook offering a new feature called: "Legacy Contact."  This feature may also help your loved ones secure your account after your death and allow you to make specific designations about your account. 

Although many state legislatures are attempting to define how digital accounts may be managed after the user passes away, we believe that it is a good step forward that Google and Facebook are making in helping families gain a better understanding of the available options for digital asset management.

MP900442500Portland attorney Victoria Blachly said people can avoid the personal, financial and in some cases legal headaches that come with losing access to their online accounts by creating a Virtual Asset Instruction Letter where they list their online accounts, the passwords they use to access each one, and instructions explaining what, if anything, should be done with the content each account holds.

What happens to all of your online accounts when you die? Will your loved ones be able to access them? If so, what should they do with those accounts? There is much to think about when it comes to your digital estate planning.

An article from The (Bend OR) Bulletin, “Estate planning in a digital world,”says that you can avoid personal, financial, and legal headaches by creating a Virtual Asset Instruction Letter.

MP900442500Roos said it’s important that people plan ahead and put “someone in charge of these digital assets and giving the family the opportunity to take over accounts if something were to happen, so they can control the information so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.”

Have you heard the buzz about digital estate planning? For those with online accounts—this includes online bank accounts, social media accounts, and photography accounts—these are part of your digital estate. And just like your physical assets, your digital assets need protection too.

A recent report, titled Have you planned your digital afterlife?, reminds us that a digital estate can cause real headaches for grieving loved ones who may be attempting to access those accounts. The report recommends that people write down their passwords and make sure their trusted relatives will have access.

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