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What is a digital estate plan?

Internet use has increased rapidly in the U.S. during the past two decades, and it is now a part of daily life for many people in Florida. Even older adults are becoming more aware of the Internet, as well as proficient at using it.

As more and more people do things like banking, paying bills and investing online, there is a growing need for users to incorporate their digital assets into their estate plan. So what exactly is a digital estate plan?

When people in Polk County think of estate planning, they probably think about setting up a plan for the distribution of their real estate and financial assets, and figuring out the tax implications of various asset distribution scenarios. But with so many people now storing important information in their online accounts, it can be useful to incorporate these "digital assets" into the estate plan.

The idea is that when the person passes away, their loved ones will retain access to their online accounts. To accomplish this, the account holder should take a few general steps. First, the account holder should compile a list of all of their online accounts, and then decide which of those accounts they want their loved ones to have access to if he or she dies or becomes incapacitated. The account holder should then decide exactly how they want to transfer their user names, passwords and other relevant account information. Finally, the account holder should add a provision in their will or trust about transferring their online accounts to their executor or trustee.

Estate planning can encompass many aspects of a person's life, including their online account use. People in Florida who want to incorporate their digital assets into their estate plan may want to contact an attorney. Just like technology and the Internet, the laws are changing in this area, and it is important to make sure that every facet of an estate plan is legally valid.

Source: WealthManagement.com, "Creating an Effective Digital Estate Plan," Christopher Steele, accessed on July 20, 2016

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