Does your Estate Plan include ALL of your assets? Digital Assets and Estate Planning

Thursday, February 12, 2015

You have gathered all of your insurance, retirement, bank account, and personal belongings information for your estate. You’re done right? Maybe not!

In today’s world, you have a vast amount of assets that you can’t physically touch or hold. For example, iTunes music and videos, your email accounts, your Facebook account, your Pinterest account, your Amazon account, your eBay account, and files and documents on your computer are just a few of the types of assets we term “digital assets.”

These digital assets are just as valuable as your other personal possessions and bank account information. In some case, such as an online repository of family pictures, it can be considered invaluable. According to some studies, the average person has approximately $35,000 worth of assets stored on digital devices.

Unfortunately, due to the Stored Communications Act of 1986, many Internet service providers are barred from disclosing your personal records to your family after your death unless you have specifically granted them that authorization. This means that many times all of your information stored online is forever unavailable to your loved ones.

Here at Fine & Hatfield, we work with you to ensure that your Estate Plan includes these digital assets and provides your representative the authority to retrieve those assets, in order to aid your family in determining what your estate includes and how you want it to be divided. Part of this process includes the following steps:

1. Inventory your digital assets. Every year, make a list of all your online accounts, subscriptions, and other digital assets.

2. Passwords. Make a list of your account login information, including the password, and put it in a safe place. Make sure your attorney, personal representative, or trustee knows where to find this list. Be sure to update this list periodically.

3. Update your estate planning documents. It is important that your Durable Power of Attorney includes provisions that authorize that individual to manage your digital assets and online accounts. Your will or trust should also have provisions that direct how you want these digital assets to be distributed or dealt with after your death.

Contact Andrew E. Skinner today about how we can help you plan for the future and make a difficult time for your loved ones a little easier. You may reach Andrew at aes@fine-hatfield.com.

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