With regards to estate planning there is a need for individuals to plan for the future of their digital property too and not just the physical and tangible assets. Digital assets or properties may include virtual currencies, social media passwords, banking information, digital wallets, stock portfolio information, private keys and so on. Failure to plan on digital inheritance may leave loved ones with no way of accessing these assets. There is also the danger of identity fraud or theft.
Different platforms have different terms of service and some have taken steps towards helping users plan on how their digital footprint will be handled after they have passed on.
Facebook has for instance launched a feature known as legacy contact. This is basically an account holder who has been chosen to manage or look after an account after the owner has passed away. Upon the account getting memorialized the legacy contact has the responsibility of writing a pinned post to a profile or even deleting the account.
However having a password required to access an account does not translate to having legal authority. Statutes touching on computer fraud and abuse and which govern unauthorized access to electronic devices such as computers under federal law limit the sharing of account data with others.
With the emergence of blockchain technology though there is finally a solution which can assist in digital inheritance. This could be done by for instance taking all of one’s account and combining them into one file before encrypting them with a private key on a blockchain network.
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But this is not enough as you would still need to ensure that your nearest and dearest are able to access your digital assets or properties once you have passed away. This can be done by distributing various shares of your private key to those designated as administrators or in a legal document in order to ensure that your loved ones get your digital properties according to your wishes.
Basically there are several steps when it comes to estate planning for digital assets with the first one being to take an inventory which involves listing all the digital assets one currently owns. After making an inventory the next step is to separate the different digital assets into tiers – long-term cold storage, mid-range storage and easily spendable. Each tier of digital assets requires a different plan with regards to accessibility, ease-of-use and security.
The next step is deciding who gets what and this is when digital estate planning resembles the traditional estate planning. Once this has been decided it is imperative to make sure that the beneficiaries will be in a position to access the digital assets when you pass away. This requires making arrangements on how they will get private keys, passwords or passphrases.
One of the startups that has been formed to assist in digital inheritance matters is SafeHaven. The SHA Token of SafeHaven is designed with a view to encrypting the assets of an individual on the blockchain by separating the shares or keys among the beneficiaries that are named in the legal document or will.
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