Do you own a computer, smartphone, tablet, or another password protected electronic device? Who else has your login credentials? What will happen to your information if something horrible occurs to you?
Odds are that you have active online accounts requiring a username, password, encryption key, or other credentials to access them. Examples include banking, trading, cryptocurrency, NFTs, e-mail, social media, and games. Who will be able to access these accounts if something were to happen to you? While we are still alive, technology can make life easier. However, when we get sick, are disabled, or pass away, then technology can make life much more difficult. The relevant legislation is far from enactment. Planning for access to (and disposal of) your digital assets is critical. You must identify your digital assets and specify who will have access to and control should you fall ill, become disabled, or pass away. Specifically, how would you like your digital assets to be addressed (i.e., to pass to a beneficiary as a bequest essentially, removal and permanent deletion, or something in between).
Identify Your Digital Assets
Identifying your "digital assets," which generally refers to all your digital assets and electronic communications, is the initial step. Any digital file type, like images, audio files, and videos, as well as any online account (which may include e-mail, software licenses, social networking accounts, file sharing, domain registration, domain name service, financial management, online stores, games, and frequent flyer accounts) as well files stored in the cloud, a computer, or another electronic device, are included in these assets (e.g., desktop, laptop computer, tablets, storage devices, smartphone, etc.).
Make a Digital Assets List & Check it (at least) Twice
Once you've determined what digital assets you have, you may create a list of all of your accounts, numbers, usernames, passwords, PINs, security questions, and answers, as well as other data. Safeguard the data once your inventory of digital assets is complete. Maybe you feel safe giving the inventory to a relative or potential fiduciary. You might want to look into a secure online storage solution if your information is more complicated, contains corporate assets, or involves blockchain assets. These services could also make it more convenient to update your digital asset inventory frequently.
Digital Assets Access
Your power of attorney agent's, conservator's, executor's, or trustee's rights to access, control, and dispose of your digital assets are not totally apparent. Connecticut is one of the states with laws governing access to digital assets, but the types of digital assets and the tools that may be required to access, manage, and dispose of them are evolving more quickly than the laws.
Many online accounts contain license agreements and contracts that limit who (other than you) can use your account and when. As there are multiple online account providers, there are various policies as well. When an account holder passes away or becomes otherwise unable to handle her digital assets, this may cause issues. In light of the legal difficulties, your estate.
Disposition of Your Digital Assets
It is crucial to express your wishes for your digital assets in writing. Should family and friends have access to a file or account when you are no longer able to access or manage your digital assets? And should they . . . especially if the account contains personal content (like images or writings)? Should the account be closed?
Some types of digital assets, such as blockchain (cryptocurrency and NFTs) assets that may be transferred when accessible, brokerage accounts, online bank accounts, and trading accounts, have monetary value. Others have monetary worth that can be transferred or swapped, like domain names, music rights, music storage accounts, or a PayPal credit balance. Other assets, such as images, recipes, and manuscripts, which have enormous sentimental or family historical significance, may only exist in digital form.
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