We are increasingly relying on digital access and storage to manage our lives. It’s important for everyone involved in your estate to accept this and be knowledgeable about digital assets and how to manage them. As you begin to organize this digital information, remember the many websites where you’ve left a digital footprint and how difficult it can be to keep records of all the locations.
While Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets, released by the White House on March 9, 2022, defined digital assets to include primarily cryptocurrency — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) —, and other mediums of exchange that are recorded on the blockchain, they could also include:
Physical storage devices, such as hard drives or smartphones can be damaged, so you may want to back up files in other locations or print hard copies. You may also want to back up data stored in the cloud to a local computer or storage device in case you lose internet access.
While it’s difficult enough for you to keep track of and manage these digital assets, imagine someone coming in after your death to sort it all out.
Like physical files, your digital files must be organized in a way that makes individual ones easy to locate. To accomplish this:
There may be software or an app that may be appropriate to your situation. It can list the type and location of all of your digital assets and documents, any account numbers, usernames, and passwords necessary. You can also buy online services, called Digital Archives, that will do this while you are alive. A low tech option, called a Digital Assets Memorandum is also available. It is simply a document that lists all of your digital assets and their location.
Detailed information about managing a loved one’s digital assets after death can be found in The Digital World section.