For many years, most assets that a person could own had a paper trail, whether that was the deed to a property, a signed trust document, or a bank statement reflecting cash holdings. Today, however, almost everyone also owns digital assets that are important to keep track of. When you're working with an estate planning attorney to make provisions for your assets after you die, don't forget to include plans for the following digital assets.
Your email account may have sensitive information that you want to be protected after you pass away. Depending on the email service, you can set up a trusted person to inherit the use of the account after you die, or an authorized person can close or delete the account on your behalf. It's not always legal to just leave a loved one your password and have them manage the account for you, so be sure to ask your estate law attorney about how to legally leave your email in good hands.
Social Media Accounts
Most major social media companies allow you to authorize a trusted loved one to manage your account when you become incapacitated or pass away. For example, Facebook lets you set up a legacy contact to either manage or close your profile. You may want to leave instructions in your estate plan for this person to delete your social media accounts in order to protect any data or messages.
Digital Photos, Music, and Videos
Your phone and computer likely hold hundreds of media files that may have either sentimental value, like personal photos, or real value, such as in the case of movies and music albums. You can leave a computer to a person in your will if you want them to inherit the media collection you have stored on that computer.
However, if you have online accounts where you've purchased music and movies, then you might have to jump through more hoops to leave these assets to a loved one if you are even able to grant access at all. Your estate planning attorney can help you determine whether you have the rights to pass on these digital assets and how to set that up.
Online Bank Accounts
If you have a digital payment app account or other online bank accounts, passing on this asset should be as simple as designating a beneficiary, the same way you would with a traditional bank account. You could also add a loved one as a joint account owner, so they would have access to the funds immediately instead of waiting for your estate to go through probate.
There are many other types of digital assets to consider, such as e-commerce shops, cryptocurrencies, rewards points, and more, so make sure to go over your full digital life with your estate planning attorney. They can give you recommendations for including these assets in your will or designating a trust to pass them to your loved ones. Contact an estate planning attorney for more information.
If you've decided that you want to adopt a child, the first thing you should do is reach out to a family law attorney. While it may not seem logical to get an attorney involved from the start, it's important that you protect yourself legally from the beginning. After making the decision to adopt, I have been through the process several times. I created this site to help other adoptive parents understand what they can expect from the entire process, including the legal support you're likely to need. I hope this information helps you feel more confident in this major life decision.