Photo: Flickr/Sheepie Meili
In the digital age, it’s not just our worldly possessions that will be squabbled over after we’re gone. Our computers, smartphones and tablets have amassed a virtual treasure trove of some of our most valued belongings: A lifetime of photos, social media profiles, music collections and financial accounts, to name a few.
Leaving those things out in the ether without a clear owner could be a costly mistake, says Brian Liu, attorney and co-founder of LegalZoom.com.
The site, which links consumers to a wide variety of legal services for a flat monthly fee, has been working to bring more attention to the importance of digital asset planning.
“Digital assets may not have a quantifiable dollar value, but people really believe it has great personal significance to them,” Liu told Your Money recently.
In a recent survey by McAfee, U.S. consumers said they valued their digital assets at an average of $55,000. That’s quite a chunk of change to leave lying around while you bop around the afterlife.
“(Leaving them up for grabs) just adds a level of confusion and it could cost more money in that process to figure things out,” Liu added.
Factoring them into your will could be as simple as leaving your online gaming account to a nephew or brother if you’re an avid gamer and want to be sure your high score lives on.
But then think about your LinkedIn profile or Facebook account: The private messages you sent to clients and all those stockpiles of photos you’ve amassed over the years might have significant value – and could turn into ammunition if left in the wrong hands.
To start lining up your digital assets, make an appointment with your attorney or estate planner. It’s simple enough to add them onto an existing will.
Said Liu: “It’s about time that people (and the law) start thinking about how legal documents can catch up to the modern realities of where people’s values are.”