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Why You Need a Digital Will

Dec. 7, 2022

Digital technology has transformed the way we live. Our society has irrevocably plunged into the digital world. As technology becomes ever more deeply embedded into our daily lives, we need to plan accordingly. “Digital Assets” is a broad term that includes a multitude of online accounts and records. A digital Will enables you to identify how you want each one of these profiles to be handled after your death. A digital Will is not the same as a traditional written Will, which is a legal document specifying how your assets will be distributed after death. You can pass some types of digital assets through your Will, but most digital assets transfer in other ways, or not at all. Online accounts and digital media have value, and they could be locked or even lost if you don’t set up the appropriate protection in your Will.

Practically speaking, most of your digital assets won’t pass through your Will. However, even if you can’t pass these types of digital assets through your Will, you can (and should) make a plan for what happens to them after you are gone. In addition to notifying your loved ones of what online accounts do exist, your Will should also describe where to find them.

In most cases, your family members won’t know what you have floating in cyberspace once you die. Each website has its own requirements and legal processes for accessing accounts after death. There are a few actions you can take to make things easier to access and for your loved ones to know how you would like your digital accounts to be handled after you are gone. Between the many types of digital wallets and various online exchanges, your family will most likely be on a wild goose chase unless you make it clear where this information can be found.

Some digital accounts will have a measurable monetary value, while others will have values that differ from person to person. While your cryptocurrency can be cashed out for cold hard cash, removing your online dating profile may have other complications. Below are a few digital assets and accounts to consider when documenting your digital footprint:

  • Digital graphic with icons representing technology and the internetBitcoin and other cryptocurrency

  • Social media profiles    

  • Frequent flier miles

  • Credit card reward points

  • PayPal

  • Venmo

  • Online dating profiles

  • YouTube accounts

  • Prescription subscription accounts

  • Crowdfunding accounts

  • Access to digitally filed tax returns

  • Website ownership

  • NFTs

  • Email accounts

Leaving digital assets to your loved ones after your death requires more planning than traditional and tangible assets. With a little planning, you can ensure that your beneficiaries inherit your accounts as you intended. We can help you with documenting the appropriate information and notifying your loved ones of your digital assets, along with your traditional Will. Call our office to schedule an appointment at (814) 961-2050. McKelvey Law Offices specialize in making estate plans for unique family situations and assets. Our office is in Salix, Pennsylvania, which is right outside of Johnstown. However, we do many appointments over the phone with clients all throughout the state! If that option works better for you, we will easily accommodate to meet your needs. We hope to hear from you soon.