Estate Planning Should Include Digital Estate Assets
Estate planning is an essential part of planning for the future that helps ensure that family wealth is properly disbursed and important topics such as elder care, guardianship, and estate control are addressed. Until recently, this was all most people had to worry about. With the rise of the internet, another important part of estate planning services that must be considered are digital estates. When planning for the future, it has become more important than ever that individuals discuss this topic with estate law attorneys and have a plan for both their physical and digital estate.
What Is A Digital Estate?
Digital Estate is a term that has been applied to a person's online presence. It is the records of such a presence that should be considered during estate planning. Today, most people exist online in one way or another. This existence can be through email accounts, online banking, Facebook or Twitter profiles, blogs, or in many other ways. These digital assets are frequently overlooked during normal estate planning services. Yet a person's online presence has become an important new part of thorough estate planning.
Why Digital Estate Planning Is Important
When a person dies, one common question asked with good reason today is about what to do with that person's online accounts. These accounts often contain sentimental, personal, and sometimes valuable information, usually locked behind passwords. In order to access any of this information whether to close an account, manage data, or even gain access to a website and other active online sites, family members must know that these accounts and sites exist. Secondly, they must have a way to access them. To provide this information in the safest manner possible, people should consider planning for their digital estate as well as their physical one. This will help to ensure that any information meant to be shared, such as photos, blogs, etc., can be shared.
Creating a Digital Estate Management Plan
The basic concept behind digital estate management involves three basic things a person should do:
- Catalog their digital assets.
- Choose someone to access their digital estate when the time comes.
- Provide a way to access the digital estate by the survivors.
Although this may sound easy, most people have a much larger digital estate than they may think. So actually taking an inventory of all the sites and accounts that need to be addressed upon their passing can be a considerable task. Once this has been accomplished, the rest is similar to normal estate planning. The person chosen to handle a digital estate can even be included in estate planning documentation, along with the instructions for how digital assets should be handled. With this additional planning, anyone working with estate law attorneys to plan for the future can be assured they have thought of everything. Then even their digital assets will be handled in the way they would prefer.
Planning an estate is an essential part of preparing for the future for any individual. Today, since most people exist virtually as well as physically, attorneys who deal with estate law stress the importance of planning for a digital estate in addition to other estate planning. It is essential to consider digital assets as a part of all personal assets, and include them with standard estate planning services.
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