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Estate Planning for Digital Assets

You completed your living trust and now you can rest easy knowing that when the time comes your family will be able to settle your estate with ease. But does your estate plan cover everything they will need to access and finalize your on-line accounts? Whether we like it or not, this is the digital age; there are on-line accounts and smart-phone applications for anything and everything you can imagine. Not only are there numerous accounts, we all work diligently to keep them secure and password protected. Would your family be able to access these accounts? Here are some tips on how you can manage your digital footprint.

Inventory your digital assets:
An inventory of your digital footprint should include information regarding:
1. Hardware (computers, iPads, laptops, external hard drive, USB drives, smart-phones)
2. Software (banking software, Quicken, etc.)
3. File structure (where your important documents are located on your computer)
4. Online presence (websites, blogs, social media accounts, document storage) and on-line accounts (shopping sites like Amazon, PayPal, eBay, online bill pay, banking and investment accounts).

Provide access:
After you have inventoried your digital assets, the corresponding passwords to access each location should be added to your inventory. This would be best done with pen and paper and kept in a safe location; as updates are made to passwords, or new accounts are created, the list will also need to be updated.

Provide instructions:
At a minimum, specify which accounts you would like closed and if you want notification of your passing posted on your social media sites.

Identify a “digital executor”:
Identify one or more individuals who will handle your digital accounts and ensure they know where the account and password information is located. Typically, these individuals should be the same individuals named as trustee(s) in your trust and/or as executor(s) in your Will.