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The importance of digital assets in estate planning

For most Florida residents, thinking about mortality is probably not the ideal way to spend an afternoon. However, it is often necessary for anyone hoping to protect the interests of loved ones and provide them with the maximum amount of assets possible following his or her passing. Estate planning forces people to confront issues such as mortality, but it is worth it. The benefits greatly outweigh the slight amount of discomfort involved in dealing with issues involving death.

Aside from the discomfort of dealing with death-related issues, some people may not realize just how many assets they are in possession of. Sure, the larger physical assets may immediately spring to mind -- the houses, cars, boats and so on. But in the modern age, there many non-physical assets that may prove valuable for loved ones.

According a recent survey, 51 percent of American adults conduct their banking online. What's more, 32 percent do so on their phones. Almost nine out of every ten Americans use the internet as well. With these statistics, it becomes apparent that there are many intangible properties that people possess in the digital age.

With all of these digital assets, some may be wondering how they play into estate planning. For many family and friends, these digital assets could hold a great amount of financial and sentimental value. As such, one article recommends that they should be included in wills or trusts. A fiduciary should also be designated to execute a person's wishes. For a fiduciary to be able to access online accounts if a person should fall into a state of unconsciousness or death, it is often necessary to include an enhancement in an estate plan. A well-structured estate plan will address such intricacies.

Source: Wall Street Cheat Sheet, "Estate Planning 101: Don't Forget About Your Digital Assets," Eric McWhinnie, May 19, 2014

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