Be Sure Your Digital Assets are Included in Your Estate Plan

How can I pass down my bitcoin or other digital currencies to my heirs?

Witnessing the death and illness overtaking the world as the coronavirus spreads has many people rushing to create an estate plan, or updating their existing plan. Ensuring that you have a complete, comprehensive, and up-to-date estate plan will offer you much needed peace of mind while further making sure your loved ones are protected should a tragedy strike. Digital assets are commonly overlooked in basic estate plans. Given the importance of digital assets to many families, it is necessary to take some extra steps to incorporate your digital assets within your estate plan. Our Orange County estate planning lawyers discuss some digital estate planning essentials below.

Identifying Your Digital Assets

Digital assets are a newer class of assets. Most of us will have digital assets, even if we’ve never considered them as such. Digital assets might include:

  • Online bank accounts
  • Bitcoin or other virtual currencies
  • Credit card rewards
  • Social media accounts
  • Photographs stored online
  • Email accounts
  • Income generating websites
  • Any digital photos, blogs, or other works that produce an income
  • Digital trademarks or copyrights

Not every digital asset will have monetary value. Some digital assets will, however, still have sentimental value to your family, like personal photographs or social media accounts. By having an estate plan that includes all of these digital assets, you will make it far easier for your loved ones to be able to retrieve and access these assets.

Put Your Digital Asset Plan in Writing

Your will should include instructions as to your digital assets. You can also create a separate estate plan for these assets. You will want to start by identifying and cataloging all of your digital assets. You should then decide who you want to manage these assets and what you would like done with them. You will want to provide clear instructions to your heirs on how to access your digital assets. This will likely include the website address, username, and password.
It is critical that you document any digital currencies because without instructions for access, these assets are at risk of being lost permanently. Consult with an estate planning lawyer for help incorporating your digital assets into your existing estate plan or building a new estate plan that best protects your assets and loved ones.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.