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Digital estate planning can be daunting but important

As our culture turns to an increasingly digital society, estate administration is growing more and more complicated. More than ever, Florida residents are keeping important financial records online, whether stored on the hard drive of a personal computer or on Internet-based storage programs. This information could include bills that the person chose to pay online or statements for various financial accounts. Not accounting for these while executing an estate plan would be a gross oversight.

Sometimes, beneficiaries of the deceased do not even know these things exist, and if they do, they do not know how to access the records without the right passwords or account information. This requires a lot of advanced planning in order to prepare for. An individual should supply the executor of his or her estate with passwords and information for all their online accounts. Thorough estate planning should include checking things, such as:

  • E-mail accounts
  • Computers
  • Smartphones
  • Webpages and blogs
  • Intellectual property (music, photos, writing)

While online financial records are among the obvious things to account for, estate planners will want to dissect every little part of their online life to account for any valuable asset. These things can include valuable domain names all the way down to money tied in with online games. They might not carry any monetary value, but social networking accounts need to be accounted for, too. It could be wise for an individual to specify in writing how they would like their social networking websites dealt with upon death.

Finally, some business-owners operate every facet of their company online, leaving a huge chunk of their estate floating around in cyberspace. It is important to know where all the accounts and passwords are located so they can be dealt with in a timely manner.

While this is growing to be a very problematic issue in states where the digital culture is advanced, it is a problem that everyone, including individuals in Florida, will have to confront now that we rely so heavily on computers and the Internet.

Source: The Seattle Times, "Digital estate planning often forgotten," Patrick Marshall, Jan. 7, 2012

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