What Is A Digital Asset?

Traditionally, when people think of assets when they die, they’re thinking of either a tangible asset like a car, jewelry, furniture or they’re thinking about some type of financial account like a life insurance policy or a bank account, investment accounts, but now that we’re living our lives in the digital world, we need to also consider those kinds of assets as part of the estate plan.

What can encompass a digital asset? It can be any type of electronic communication, but many other things as well, but some examples would be social media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, gaming accounts.

People do online gaming. They have these avatars that live in the digital world and, when people think of online gaming, they also assume there’s no value to that, which is actually the opposite. People can buy things like gems or lives or certain planets through certain games, and those do have value, and we need to figure out what to do with those when someone passes away. Some other online digital accounts that are included as a digital asset would be an online bank account. We have Miles through airlines or points through hotels.

Now, the question really is we have all these digital assets, but how do I find them? If it’s not something I can touch or feel and I don’t know that it’s out there, how do I know that it exists?

The best way to deal with these digital assets when someone dies is to use what I call a gateway asset to get access. A great example of a gateway asset would be a cell phone. If you have a smartphone and you passed away, and an individual is able to get in to the smartphone, they then can find out what other digital assets are there. If you have a banking app through Chase Bank, they know that there’s an online account through Chase Bank. That is a digital asset. If they see an app on there for Facebook, they know that there’s a social media account, and they can get access through the Facebook account.

Some other gateway assets would be your email, so getting access to your email. If you’re using, as an example, an online backup, so you’re storing your online documents to a backup site, typically, those companies will send you an email saying the backup has been successful. If you see that email come through, you know that individual does in fact have an online backup asset that we need to get access to and find out what’s in there.

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