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How to create an estate plan for digital assets

When drafting an estate plan, it’s natural to gravitate toward handling the usual assets. Bank accounts, property and other investments are likely to be a main priority, and that’s still par for the course. As technology continues to affect our lives in new ways, however, there comes an accumulation of a different sort of asset that warrants consideration.

Digital assets such as iTunes libraries, social media accounts and pictures stored online can have lives that last far longer than their owners’. For individuals who are creating an estate plan, it may be worth having a blueprint in place for their digital footprint after they move on.

Making it easier on the executor

The best place to start with regards to this segment of an estate plan is to begin accounting for the totality of your digital assets. Things like email, PayPal and Facebook accounts are often just the tip of the iceberg—it’s important to note access to online bank accounts, music libraries, data storage properties and other items as well.

A password manager is also not a bad idea. It should be noted that you do not want to put usernames and passwords in the will itself, as it will become a matter of public record. Having an inventory of your accounts, as well as an easy way to access them, can make your executor’s life significantly easier.

Writing out the actual plan

Specificity can be crucial. Be sure to thoroughly outline how you want your executor to have access to your accounts and assets. It’s also important to note every single account, accompanied by a more broad statement that encapsulates all of your assets. This can be tedious, as many Georgia residents have dozens of digital accounts, but it’s necessary to ensure the execution of your wishes.

Also, if you wish to have, say, your Facebook account deleted upon death, that should be put into writing. It’s worth looking into what some companies have in place policy-wise regarding death as well. Google, for example, allows users to have a plan in place if they should go an extended period of time without accessing their accounts.

Putting together an estate plan is a serious task. As with any such matter of importance, it can be beneficial to seek out an attorney’s guidance. A legal professional who is adept at estate planning issues may be able to better outline a path toward dividing your digital and more tangible assets.

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