Why Every Estate Plan Should Consider Digital Assets

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According to the U.S. private wealth management division of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Atlantic Trust, digital assets should be accounted for and included in any estate planning you do. Considering that 64% of Americans surveyed in a recent RocketLawyer poll answered that they don’t know what happens to their digital assets after death, it’s important to equip yourself with the proper knowledge.

Joshua Miller, managing director and senior wealth strategist for the Atlantic Trust, recently tried to better explain the reasoning to PRNewswire.com.

“Given the growing digital footprint that most people have, it’s really important to think about what happens to these assets when you or a loved one dies,” he said. “Considering how to dispose of digital assets and accounts, including the potential efficacy of trust ownership and powers of attorney, should be a part of any estate planning discussion.”

It’s a new frontier with much to be learned, and then presumably revised, changed, and tweaked countless times in the near future. Still, it’s important to keep up with the laws and regulations as they are being crafted and evolving rather than try to play catch-up down the road.

For example, according to PRNewswire.com, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) that passed last year provided fiduciaries with “at least the authority to manage and distribute digital assets, copy or delete digital assets, and access digital assets.”

This updated laws set in place since 1986 — predating the internet itself, let alone social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

In addition to the financial digital assets people own, wealthmanagement.com points out that more and more emotional and sentimental assets, like pictures, are being stored digitally and can be lost forever without proper protection.

A comprehensive estate plan should be something everyone compiles at some point, preferably sooner rather than later. Nowadays, digital assets are just one more aspect every person needs to consider when putting theirs together.

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