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Estate Planning in the 21st Century: Digital Assets and Social Media Accounts

 Posted on September 28, 2016 in Estate Planning

DuPage County estate planning attorneyWhen most people think about estate planning, their minds immediately turn toward dividing the tangible assets of a recently deceased person among his family members and loved ones. Such a concept is not inaccurate, but it does not really tell the whole story. Traditional assets like homes, cars, cash savings, and furniture, of course, must be accounted for in your estate plan, but what about considerations made possible by modern technology like digital downloads and your Facebook account? An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you address such concerns so that your privacy is fully protected along the way.

Digital Assets

If you use your computer, tablet, or mobile phone with any regularity, chances are good that you have at least digital assets. These may include songs and movies downloaded through iTunes, funds left in a PayPal account, or scanned financial documents electronically stored on your computer. With internet security becoming such a hot-button issue, it can be difficult for a family member—presuming that he or she knows about the asset in the first place—to log in, make changes, or delete the account.

You and your attorney should carefully review the terms of service for each of your online accounts. From there, you can develop a strategy that will give a trusted person the authority to carry out your wishes regarding your digital assets upon your death.

Facebook and Social Media

Facebook is, by far, the most popular social media network in the world. An estimated 1.7 billion users log on to the site at least once per month. Facebook is also the first social network site to offer options regarding how an account should be handled following the death of a user. The site allows users to designate a particular person to access your account upon your death and to either close down the account altogether or to allow the page to remain as a memorial.

Other social media sites are sure to follow suit, as Twitter experienced a rather embarrassing situation earlier this summer. The Twitter account of a former New York Times journalist was hacked, and his followers received a tweet containing offensive material—despite the fact that the man had been dead for more than a year. The same thing has happened to others, and not all of them have been celebrities. By taking steps to protect your accounts after your death, you can avoid such problems for your family.

Let Us Help

To learn more about including digital assets and social media accounts in your estate plan, contact an experienced Lombard estate planning attorney. Call A. Traub & Associates today to schedule a confidential consultation at any one of our three convenient office locations.



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