Including Digital Assets In Your Estate Plan, Part 1

For most people, creating an effective estate plan involves tying up a lot of loose ends.

We've explored many of those ends in this blog, such as choosing a personal representative and making decisions about advance directives.

In this two-part post, let's turn our attention to an aspect of estate planning that is new in the digital age: disposing of digital assets, such as social-media accounts and e-mail addresses.

Digital-asset planning can start with something as basic as making sure that your personal representative or heirs have the passwords and permissions they'll need to take care of your personal e-mail and social-media accounts.

Of course, the service providers will probably all have different policies on how control of accounts is transferred. In all likelihood you will be dealing with some of the big players in the media arena, such as Google, Facebook or Twitter.

But there are also other basic electronic asset transfers that should be attended to. After all, online banking is now common, and is important to know how to transfer control of that account.

The same is true of Paypal accounts and other bill-paying services.

Many people also have miscellaneous online assets that should be addressed as part of a comprehensive estate plan that also includes digital assets. For example, suppose you have a personal blog that has been up for many years. Should it be continued, or should you put a plan in place to have it taken down?

These are only some of the questions that can arise. We will discuss the nuts and bolts of digital-asset planning and distribution further in part two of this post.

Source: USA Today, "Estate plan should pass down digital heirlooms," Sue Doerfer, April 17, 2014

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