Estate planning in the digital age requires new considerations

Florida residents who are thinking about how to structure an estate plan may be interested in an article detailing some of the issues that come along with the modern focus on digital assets. The article also discusses some steps to take to secure these assets for a person's beneficiaries.

At one time, a person's earthly possessions could be inventoried by searching their home for documents after their death. Now, with so much of our information and assets in a digital form, they are locked behind passwords and encryption. After a person passes away, the question of what happens to these digital assets is a very important one. In order to avoid these problems, an estate plan should take into account the new realities of the digital age.

Generally, this would involve taking an inventory of one's digital assets. Bank and email accounts, as well as any other important online services, should have the usernames, account numbers and passwords cataloged. This information should be provided to an "online executor," one who is entrusted with dealing with these accounts after a person's passing. This person could also be tasked with erasing any emails or other items that may be damaging or offensive to a person's family members. The executor may require a power of attorney or other document in order to dispense of the digital assets as the owner wishes.

Crafting the proper estate planning documents for the ultimate distribution of assets is very important. The benefits to one's heirs are great, as it can streamline the process during a time of mourning. An attorney with experience in this area can assist a client in determining the types of documents that will be appropriate.

Source: FOX, "Tips for Planning Your Estate for the Digital Age", Karen Haywood Queen, March 21, 2014

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