Protecting Your Digital Assets

Inventory online accounts

Like most people Kenneth Steele has a collection of passwords.

"I probably have four different passwords," said Steele. Those accounts include financial and social media sites.  

But what would happen if Steele died suddenly, would other people have access to his digital assets?

"Mainly my father and I have shared stuff," said Steele. The two store each other's passwords in case something unexpectedly happens. Steele says he's grateful since his father has suffered from heart problems. But the reality is, everyone should have a back-up plan to share their digital assets.

"Record all their digital information in one spot that they can put in a safe along with all their other important documents," said UBS Financial Services managing director Richard Ina.

It would also be important to share any personal domain names or intellectual property that might reside online.

Ina says in the past, loved ones could inventory assets after a death by tangibly going through personal property. But the digital age has drastically changed the process. Today, it is possible that someone could have banking, financial and other personal information online where no one would be aware of it. Or if they knew about, it would not be able to have access without user names and passwords.

"A lot of things could really go wrong so it is absolutely critical that especially spouses share that information," said Ina.

That means writing down account names and addresses along with access information. That information can then be kept in a safe, a safety deposit box or with a trusted friend or attorney. You should also make loved ones aware of online cloud accounts that could include digital photos.

In today's world when people are estate planning, they need to be aware of their physical and digital assets. That should also include ongoing accounts and bills.

"To make sure that you don't get yourself in financial trouble by missing payments or not finding assets," said Ina.

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