Throughout your life, you accumulate a wide variety of assets, including cash, real estate, and vehicles. But you’ve also probably been collecting assets of the digital kind — whether that be music downloads, frequent flyer miles, or cryptocurrency. When you put so many of your hard-earned dollars into virtual goods, there are some important considerations to keep in mind if you want to pass them on to your heirs.
What are digital assets?
Many people think of digital assets as digital copies of things that you purchase online, such as music or ebooks, but there are other types of digital assets. They include things that you store in virtual storage systems, such as Dropbox or iCloud. Some examples are photographs in your Flickr account, financial documents in your Box account, and bitcoins in your Coinbase account.
Social media accounts are also digital assets. Even if they don’t have any monetary value, the contents may be something you want to bequeath to your heirs.
It can be easy to assign a dollar value to some digital assets, and difficult for others. The dollar value of an online-only savings account, for example, is as straightforward as it gets. On the other hand, a photo collection of the first 10 years of your son’s life could be worth several thousands of dollars to you and nothing to the average Joe.
Taking care of your digital assets
Here are some best practices for taking care of your digital assets once you’re no longer in the picture.
1. Read the fine print of your user agreement
Just because you hit the “Buy now” button for a digital file doesn’t really mean that it’s yours. Unlike physical books, CDs, DVDs, or vinyl records, purchasing digital works grants you no ownership rights. Most companies just license you the right to access and use the song or video.