My interest in financial planning started when my mom became ill and I was forced to step in as her financial caretaker. Because my mom never threw anything out, our home was filled with unopened monthly statements of all of her banking, insurance and retirement accounts. With this information, I could piece together all of her financial details.

Fast forward to today when a coworker shared with me that he manages his entire life digitally.In essence, his entire financial life is accessed electronically—from his banking, to his insurance and investments. He then pondered what would happen if he were no longer around. How would his wife even know what assets were out there without the breadcrumbs of the paper statements I was lucky enough to work with?

In this article, I will talk about how to safeguard your digital assets and digital accounts. And we’ll start first with defining what qualifies as a digital asset.

What’s a digital asset?
A digital asset is anything that exists in a binary format and comes with the right to use.

Think of word documents, emails, spreadsheets, pictures and anything else you can store in digital format on your phone, computer, tablet or in the cloud. Some of these, like pictures from your recent vacation, have sentimental value. Others, a digital wallet for example, might hold digital currencies that could have substantial economic value. Other assets could be drawings, designs or manuscripts that have commercial value.

How to keep digital assets safe
There’s a saying that there are two types of hard drives (the storage devices in computers that hold digital files): Those that have failed and those that will.  And while many computers these days use solid state drives, which are far more reliable, these drives and the memory chips in your tablets and phones can and will also fail. So just like you would make a copy of an important paper document for safekeeping, so too should you make a copy of all your important digital information.

This can be as simple as copying it to another device, but these days, one has a number of free or paid online or cloud solutions from which to choose.

The cloud
“The cloud” is really just additional storage, but it is accessed online and has the added benefit of dedicated professionals who ensure the storage remains operational. In the cloud, there are several copies of your information, so your data won’t be lost from a single point of failure.

PC Magazine has listings of the most popular cloud storage services, which include OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox, to name a few.

Those with a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 get one Terabyte (TB) of storage space for free with their subscription. One TB is approximately 75 million pages of text, so it’s a lot of space!

Online platforms
Rather than simply creating your own files in the cloud, there are several platforms that allow you to better organize your information.

Fidsafe is a website that stores digital copies of documents for free and is open to the public.  

Everplans is a complete archive of everything your loved ones will need should something happen to you. You can securely store wills, passwords, funeral wishes and more in your own secure and shareable vault.  It is available by subscription, and financial planning firms can make this available to their clients.

Our firm recently made Everplans available and I’m working with my coworker to get him set up.  Hopefully you’ll do the same soon.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to keep the financial elements of your digital assets safe, reach out to a CFP® professional in your area today.