Digital Estates 101

Digital Estates 101
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

With the advent of a lot of interest around "crypto" (cryptocurrenies like BitCoin) and "NFT"s (like Bored Apes and others), more and more people are realizing that most people have actually three different kinds of property: real estate, personal property, and digital assets or digital property.

Additionally, we all tend to run our lives thru a smartphone and/or a personal computer. And while your phone can find you terrific tacos within 5 miles of where you are right now, it's often not terribly good at showing last year's taxes, or documents about your lease, or even important personal estate items.

Some people try to keep it all in one folder someplace, or perhaps a gmail account's inbox (oh, and that's really not a good idea) or some free account file storage in the cloud.

Wherever you keep these things, common items that you should put into a digital estate tracker include:

  • a digital copy of your will (text file, MS Word doc, or PDF)
  • the master passwords of your password manager, and information on where those managers are.
  • the master password or "re-generation phrase" of any crypto-currency wallets you have
  • digital copies of any deeds, titles or other real-world documents you have prove you own something (like a car, boat, trailer, vacation home, etc)
  • information about who you trust with your personal business (a lawyer, an accountant, a close personal friend, or close family memeber). you might also then list who you don't trust with your business, maybe a sibling or someone you don't trust so completely.
  • details, perhaps, of where various paper documents are kept; a lockbox, a box in a closet, a locked desk drawer, or a bank safe deposit box.
  • details about digital assets you own, like domainnames (e.g NFTs, crypto currencies, and details about any software source code you own or have written.
  • Any picture/videos collections that contain your personal images from vacations, trips, etc.
  • pictures and details about ANY personal property you have that you specifically Insure like jewelry, art or other things with no title but high fungible value (i.e. easily transported and easy to sell).

As we will see other posts, there is a lot of variation in what each of us finds valuable, but when it has value to us, we should track it and make it or access to it, a part of our Digital Estate.

And this blog will discuss many details about all of these kinds of things, items that should be carefully tracked, diligently protected and kept secure, while at the same time allowing the people who you do trust have access to them when and if they need to - with your explicit permission.

In the past, a person's estate was usually tracked in a will or other physical papers, or perhaps the files of a lawyer; in the internet era we can all have the same kind of security using the tools we run our lives on.

The peace of mind you get from carefully managing these things is enormous.