You have digital assets and they need to be protected

On Your Side covers digital assets including what they are, how to protect them and how to address them in your living will.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 7:00 AM MST|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 8:05 AM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Corrina Cooke adores Italy. Through her books and Glam Italia tours, she makes a living showing other travelers how to fall in love with it, too.

“Every single day of my life, I’m getting these really gratifying comments from people who tell me, ‘I bought this book, and now I’m in Rome,’ or ‘I just got back from Italy and we used your books and we did all this stuff,’” Cooke said. “It’s really a work of love.” Cooke is the author of four books with two more in the works. She also has a blog and several social media accounts. She says it’s important for her to protect all of those digital assets. For her, that means putting everything into a trust.

“You don’t know what it’s going to do down the line. You don’t know if it’s going to become something tremendous,” she said. “Whether it’s blog posts or whether it’s social media, what happens to it when you die? And what happens to it if somebody sees this great picture that you took when you were on holiday in Florence and they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to take that and put it in this book.’”

You don’t have to have a career like Cooke’s to have digital assets worth protecting and preserving. “Digital assets are so much more than people think,” said Allison Kierman, a Scottsdale-based estate planning attorney. “Everybody has a digital asset. Just think about everything you do on your computer, your iPad, and your phone. All of that is content.”

Kierman says it is critical to add legacy contacts to your online profiles and social media accounts. “Facebook, Apple, Google, they all need documentary proof of who the next owner is and sometimes that’s in your will or trust. You can also go online and identify a legacy contact for many things,” Kierman said. “You have to gather the information. What are the assets? Where can they be found? Where are the hard drives? What are the different logins? The burden is on you to make a list of everything you have, big or small.”

For iPhone users, assigning a legacy contact is simple; Go to ‘settings.’ Click on your picture, followed by ‘passwords and security.’ Then choose ‘legacy contact’ at the bottom of the screen. “We’re so worried about privacy and scams and fraud, that the companies who hold this information have to be more strict now about who they give the information to,” Kierman said.

The estate planning attorney saw how important legacy contacts can be when a client’s husband unexpectedly passed away and had made the entire home electronic. “It was state-of-the-art. The front door was locked from his phone. She didn’t have the app on her phone,” Kierman said. “She didn’t really know how to use the app. He passed away she literally could not lock her front door. We had to rewire the entire house. That is a digital asset.”