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Tips for protecting assets that are stored online

As more and more people integrate the Internet into their daily lives, a great deal of human endeavor is stored in a virtual format. We can now amass huge online collections of music, written material and photography, as well as data from a wide array of fields. These online storage vaults can end up holding items that are of significant value, although many in Tennessee fail to recognize that digital assets can be worth a considerable amount of money. The following tips are offered in the hopes of teaching families the best means for protecting assets that are stored online.

One of the first steps involves making an assessment of all digital assets. This list will be different from one family to the next, but common inclusions are photographs, music files and scanned artwork or heirloom documents. Once that list has been compiled, it is important to note the location where each collection is stored, as well as information on how to access the collection.

For individuals who use online storage for business purposes, digital asset protection is even more important. Take, for example, a photographer who has spent a lifetime creating a body of work. Some of those photos may have been sold for a wide range of different uses, and with different rights attached to each. When that person dies, he may want his heirs to have the right to continue to sell his images for profit. However, unless the collection is properly indexed and stored, it would be very difficult for loved ones to take over the marketing of those valuable assets.

For some in Tennessee, online storage is not sufficient to create a sense of security when it comes to protecting assets. A second layer of protection can be achieved by placing digital assets onto another storage device, such as an external hard drive or a mix of disks and storage cards. As with so many other estate planning topics, the most important component of successful asset protection is a series of in-depth discussions with one's intended heirs, so that loved ones are aware of the existence of all asset types and how those items will be distributed when the time comes.  

Source:, "Commentary: Estate planning for digital assets", Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, Nov. 13, 2015

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