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How Can Digital Property Be Managed Through an Estate Plan?

Posted on in Estate Planning Blog

b2ap3_thumbnail_digital-assets-tablet-estate-planning.jpgThe last several decades have involved some of the most significant technological advances in all of human history. Most people now own cell phones that can take pictures and video, store electronic files, access the internet, and much more. You may use your cell phone, tablet, or computer to pay your bills, interact with friends and family on social media, communicate with colleagues via email, and complete many other responsibilities. Have you ever considered what will happen to this digital information if you become incapacitated or pass away? Through a comprehensive estate plan, you can account for digital items like photographs, files, and other electronic assets.

Start by Listing All of your Important Digital Assets and Expenses

Only about 40 percent of Americans have a will or any other estate planning tools in place. There are many different reasons that people procrastinate estate planning. Some are simply overwhelmed and unsure of where to even start. Planning for your digital assets can be especially challenging if you are not particularly “tech savvy.”

Fortunately, you do not need to be a computer expert in order to create an estate plan that accounts for digital assets. The first step you should take is to inventory all of the online accounts and files that are important to you. You may want to list your:

  • Email accounts including usernames and passwords
  • Social media accounts including usernames and passwords
  • Online financial accounts and financial records
  • Files stored in “cloud storage” sites, such as Google Drive, OneDrive, or Apple iCloud Drive
  • Files stored on cell phones, tablets, computers, laptops, flash drives, and external hard drives
  • Electronic medical records
  • Photographs and videos
  • Information about any cryptocurrency you own

While you are creating your digital inventory, take the time to list your digital expenses as well. For example, if you are paying any monthly or yearly subscription fees for applications or websites, write down the login information and payment information for these expenses. You will need to include any relevant passwords and PIN numbers. Having this information readily available will make your personal representative’s job much easier upon your death or incapacitation.

Choose a Representative to Manage Your Digital Estate  

When you create your estate plans, you will choose an executor for your estate. This individual is a personal representative who will be responsible for a number of tasks upon your death. You may also choose a financial power of attorney. This person will pay your bills, file taxes, and manage your finances should you become unable to do so due to a major illness or injury. Some people choose the same individual to fulfill these roles while others delegate responsibilities on a person-by-person basis. Many people designate someone they trust with good computer skills to manage their digital estate.

Contact a Lombard Digital Assets Lawyer

If you do not plan for your digital estate in your estate plans, your surviving loved ones may be left with the very difficult task of sorting out these issues on their own. To learn more about your estate planning options or for help drafting a will, power of attorney, or other estate planning document, contact A. Traub & Associates. Call 630-426-0196 today to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys.

 

Sources:

https://www.morningstar.com/articles/840616/do-you-have-a-plan-for-your-digital-estate

https://www.everplans.com/articles/digital-estate-planning-how-to-organize-all-your-digital-property-and-assets

https://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-2017/half-of-adults-do-not-have-wills.html

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