Trust & Estate Talk: Don’t Forget Your Digital Assets

Contact: Scott T. Ditman, Berdon LLP (New York, New York, USA)

In today’s world, it’s very likely you have significant digital assets that must be considered when creating your estate plan.

Your first step should be to conduct an inventory of all your digital assets, which should include any computers, servers, or handheld devices where these assets are stored. Next, speak with your estate planning advisor about strategies for ensuring that your loved ones or other representatives have immediate access to these assets in the event something happens to you.

If assets such as your online bank and brokerage accounts are not addressed in your estate plan, your loved ones or other representatives may not be able to access them when you die. Even worse, they may not even know these assets exist.

You can provide for the disposition of certain digital assets in your will. However, your will should not include any passwords and other confidential information since it is a public document. One strategy to consider is writing a letter to your executor or personal representative that details important online accounts, website addresses, usernames, and passwords. Another option is to establish a single password that gives your representative access to a master list of all your passwords, either on your computer or through a Web-based “password vault.”

Scott T. Ditman, a tax partner and Chair, Personal Wealth Services at Berdon LLP, advises high net worth individuals and family/owner-managed business clients on building, preserving, and transferring wealth, estate and income tax issues, and succession and financial planning.