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Should I worry about digital assets during estate planning?

Jun 20, 2019 | Estate Planning

Creating an estate plan may seem fairly straightforward. After a person completes a last will and testament, he or she might feel as if all estate planning needs have been fulfilled. Not only is this approach somewhat misguided — updating plans is very important — but it also may leave out some very important assets.

Digital assets comprise a significant portion of many people’s assets. It can be hard for some people in Florida to think of their digital footprint as property that must be protected, but given some thought, it is easy to see just how expansive these assets really are. Digital purchases — including music, books and movies — financial accounts, email accounts and data stored on smartphones are just a few examples of these types of assets.

In the past, listing usernames and passwords in a will seemed like it was enough. However, many accounts and websites do not permit third-party access even if a person has the correct login information. Instead, individuals can use wills, powers of attorney or trusts in order to designate a trusted person as a fiduciary who can legally access digital assets. This access can occur either after death or if the owner of the accounts has become incapacitated and is no longer able to manage the digital assets.

Estate planning for digital assets does not have to be hard. Like with physical property, Florida residents can start by taking a full inventory of their digital assets and documenting the login information in a secure place. From there, it is important to determine which estate planning document would be most appropriate, such as a will or a trust. Since these documents can be fairly nuanced, an experienced attorney can help explain the details in full.