Liz Weston: Who will get the key to your digital assets?

You cannot own cryptocurrencies or non-fungible tokens. You may not be following big Instagram or running an online business. But if you do almost anything online, you probably have a digital asset, an electronic record that you own, manage, or license. Failure to arrange those assets while you are alive can cause unnecessary costs, stress, and heartache for those you leave behind.

Online photo and video collections can be lost forever. Heirs may also be locked out of monetary electronic records such as cryptocurrencies and frequent flyer services. Email and social media accounts can be hacked. Even basic tasks such as paying invoices online or canceling an online subscription can be difficult or impossible without arrangements.

“Unless you have access to your online account and email, no one knows how to pay your bill,” said Abby Schneiderman, co-founder of Everplans, a site that creates end-of-life plans and stores documents. increase. “And if it takes a long time to access these accounts, you’ll notice later.” Well, we lost thousands of dollars in services we don’t use or need anymore. Because you can’t. Please access them. “

This is what you should consider and do to make this job easier for those who are supposed to do it.

Online life leaves no paper trail

In the past, your executor (who was entrusted with the settlement of your property after your death) probably owned and borrowed by examining your filing cabinet documents and your postal invoice. You could have understood what it is, says author Sharon Hartung. The two books for financial advisers, “Your Digital Undertaker” and “Digital Executor,” are no longer the case.

“Our digital assets tend to be virtual in nature, so executors aren’t going to find them in our home office search,” says Hartung. “We need to leave some additional instructions on what we created and how the executor gains access.”

Google and Facebook are one of the few online providers that allow you to appoint someone to manage your account if you become incapacitated or die. Apple recently announced plans to add similar functionality. However, most online providers do not have this option. To complicate matters, almost all providers prohibit password sharing, says Hartung.

Generally, an executor cannot request access to digital assets unless he specifically authorizes him to do so with a will or living trust. Nevertheless, the provider’s terms of use may limit what the executor can do and prevent the executor from doing what you want.

Therefore, giving the executor login credentials may be the easiest way to ensure that the executor can do what you want, says real estate planning experts.

Inventory your digital assets

The first step in creating a plan for your digital assets is to create a list of them. A search for “Digital Asset Inventory” will bring up several worksheets, including detailed worksheets created by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), an industry group, with accounts, usernames, and optionally. You can list the passwords.

Don’t forget to include access to your device. If you have set up two-factor verification on your account to verify your identity (which you usually need to do), the executor will have a passcode to unlock the phone or other device that receives the verification code. You will need.

You can also leave an executor with instructions to convey your wishes for a variety of assets, such as those to be deleted, those to be archived, and those to be transferred to heirs.

Another option is to keep your login credentials in a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password. These tools usually have a “Notes” field where you can include details about how your account is handled. You must provide the executor with the master password. The master password can be included in the instructions.

Keep your inventory safe—and renew

Confidential information such as passwords will be disclosed after death and we do not want to include them in the will. Instead, keep your inventory and instructions along with other real estate planning documents in a safe place, such as a lawyer or a safe at home, and let the executor know where they are. You can also upload information to online storage sites such as Everplans and LifeSite to allow trusted people to access your documents.

Check your inventory at least once a year and consider making any necessary updates. You will rest more easily because you know that your loved ones will not be locked out of your digital life.

“Creating a roadmap is very important to avoid surprises and tears and to minimize stress,” Schneiderman says.

This column was provided to The Associated Press from the Personal Finance website. NerdWallet.. Contact Liz Weston, a certified financial planner and columnist at Nerd Wallet. [email protected] Or @lizweston..

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