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Should you protect digital assets through an estate plan?

Whether you have a will or not, part of your estate plan must deal with digital assets. Traditionally, estate plans did not deal with these assets, since they are a relatively new aspect of estate planning. However, a majority of people have email accounts, and a growing number of people keep digital copies of important documents and pictures.

So when a person passes away, what happens to the email accounts, cloud storage information and passwords that protect them all? After all, beneficiaries and executors may not know about this information, much less the passwords or usernames that come with them. In fact, technology companies are developing policies for when and how to transfer an account (such as an email or online trading account) to a loved one upon their death

With that said, what should a person do in order to safeguard their account against unauthorized use? An experienced estate planning attorney can help you with the following:

-          Organizing digital data by tracking down information from a variety of sources

-          Helping you understand company policies regarding transfer and use of information

-          Identify products and documents that can safeguard your  information

-          Provide access to trusted individuals as well as detailed instructions for how to use the information

All of these, and other steps are part of a 21st century estate plan. Keep in mind that no two estate plans are alike, and there is no set standard for protecting digital assets. If you have questions, an estate planning lawyer can help.

Source: “Protect your digital assets after your death,” Thomas Henske, May 19, 2014

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