Preserving Your Digital Assets

As technology progresses, we as a society start moving away from paper records, hard copy files, printed photographs, handwritten letters, etc. With so much of our lives ending up as electronic bits, doesn’t it make sense to properly preserve our digital assets? In order to preserve your digital life, you must first get organized, but to do that, you need to first have an understanding of what the term “digital assets” means. Digital assets can be broken up into a handful of categories: financial, social media, digital media, and online services, among others. This is a very simple breakdown of your digital life, i.e. your digital assets. These categories encompass numerous items, including bank and investment accounts, blogs, e-mails, pictures, videos, documents, text messages, music, e-books, online rewards programs, gaming accounts, mobile data, and cloud storage, among many others.

Now that you know what digital assets are, how do you get organized? The first step is to inventory your digital assets. You can download our sample inventory sheet for reference (if you would like a blank inventory sheet to fill out,  please contact our office). The inventory, at minimum should list all of your digital assets (at least the important ones). You should also make sure that your designated agent or representative has your usernames and passwords, or at the very least, knows how to access that information. We suggest using a password manager application, many of which are available at no cost, to store your account information. Password managers are relatively easy to use and are much safer than writing everything on a piece of paper, both in terms of privacy/data breach issues and paper being easily lost or misplaced.

Once you have created the initial inventory, you have to make sure that it is up to date. The inventory should be updated any time you acquire new digital assets or eliminate others. At minimum, the digital asset inventory should be reviewed and updated annually.

As you maintain your inventory, you also need to make sure that you are properly maintaining the assets themselves. If, for example, you have your family photos stored on your computer, are you backing up? If you have backed up your data onto a CD, how long has that CD sat in your drawer? Is it still computer-readable? If you have signed up for a cloud storage service, how long is your data going to be maintained on that service? If that service is bought out by another company or discontinued, what happens to your files? There are a number of issues to be aware of when preserving your digital assets, and these are only a few of them. To find out more about digital assets, please read our FAQs.

Finally, you need to make sure that the person you designate to act on your behalf is aware of your digital assets and how to access them. For more information on how to properly plan for and preserve your digital life, please contact our office. We can be reached at (818) 835-1242.

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Filed under Digital Assets, Estate Planning, First Time Planner