Estate Planning for Digital Assets

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What happens to your facebook page if you die? Who has access to your LinkedIn account? How is online bill-pay affected, and how can your loved ones get into your email account (or would you want them to)?  Did you know that your airline miles can be transferred at death?

Colleague Eric Burkard, an insurance advisor Certified in Long Term Care, sent me this article yesterday: Protect Digital Assets After Your Death. Eric noted that most planners probably don’t touch these issues.  Not surprisingly, and as the article points out,  the law still lags behind such modern questions.

So what can you do?

First, you can consider making an inventory of your accounts, usernames, passwords and secret questions.  Digital inventories with a master username/password may be best, as they can be easily updated when log-in information changes. Of course, you must also be careful that the master list is secure, and that your loved ones will have access.

Bank accounts are generally frozen when the bank becomes aware of the owner’s death.  As this will affect automatic online bill-pay settings,  it is crucial that loved ones have access to utility, cell phone, and other regular ‘creditor accounts’, especially if you do not receive paper bills.

If you are concerned about social media access, you can research your social media account user agreements which may include after-death policies. For example, facebook pages can be memorialized. Strong feelings about the matter? Let your loved ones know.

The bottom line?  Estate planning is not just about signing legal documents.  It is about planning for the future to lessen the practical burdens your loved ones might someday face.

CAVEAT:  This web site and the information contained herein have been prepared for educational purposes only.  The information on this blog does not constitute legal advice, which would be dependent upon the specific circumstances of a particular case.  In addition, because the law can vary from state to state some information on this site may not be applicable to you.

Image © maxkabakov – Fotolia.com

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About Sarah R. Watchko, Esq.

Sarah R. Watchko is an attorney practicing estate planning and elder law in Atlanta, Georgia

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