Lost in (cyber-)space


Lost in (cyber-)space

Four steps to documenting and preserving digital assets.

Did you know that you might own up to $35,000 in hidden assets, most likely on a computer, phone or tablet? According to a survey conducted by digital security authority McAfee, that's the average value of digital assets owned by each American adult.1 These assets are comprised of personal photos and videos, books, movies, TV shows, music, health information, financial records, computer games, video games, apps and perhaps even monetized blogs or retail websites.

Many of us may not consider these virtual assets as part of our net worth, but they are. And they have real value, emotionally and financially, to heirs. Keeping digital assets well documented, logically and securely stored and accessible within the family can help ensure they are preserved for future generations.

Here are four steps to documenting digital assets:

  1. Know where your digital assets are and the value associated with them.
  2. Inventory your digital library annually.
  3. Document, print out and store updated login information at a secure location (e.g., safe deposit box or with a trusted attorney, advisor or family member). Include relevant URLs, account usernames and passwords.
  4. Draft a durable power of attorney to authorize a friend or family member to be responsible specifically for digital asset management.


The nice thing about digital assets is that they can offer a means for younger family members to become engaged with the estate planning process. You may wish to assign a young adult child or grandchild with this valuable responsibility. Be sure to consult with your estate planning attorney to ensure these assets are incorporated in your overall estate plan. 

1 McAfee.com, “How Do Your Digital Assets Compare?” May 14, 2013.

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