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Estate planning for digital assets

In addition to preparing a will to leave instructions for how assets are to be handled after death, Florida residents who are planning their estates should not neglect their digital assets. From online bank accounts to social media profiles, most people handle many of their personal and business affairs online.

Having a written plan for what happens to those online accounts after someone dies puts the account owner in control of what happens to the asset. Whether they want the cash from an online bank account withdrawn and disbursed to heirs or a special message posted on their Facebook page, leaving detailed instructions for digital assets can ensure that those assets aren't left unattended.

Before appointing a digital executor, the person who is planning the estate should check the terms of service of the account providers to ensure that someone else can legally access their accounts after their death. It is important to take an inventory of all online accounts and to compile a list of usernames and passwords, including for such important means of communication as email accounts. This list should be kept in a secure location where the digital executor has access to them in the event of the account holder's death.

Estate planning involves providing instructions for how to handle material and digital assets after the death of the owner. The more detailed the instructions, the better a person can expect their wishes to be carried out. An attorney with experience in estate planning may be able to help a client create an inventory, choose an executor and secure their passwords until they are needed.

Source: The Motley Fool, "How to Prepare Your Digital Assets for Death", Daryl Paranada, March 09, 2014

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