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Digital assets and estate planning

As a whole, the world is turning into a digital society. There are so many online accounts to keep track of and, unfortunately, many people don't think to include these accounts when doing their estate planning. With the majority of Americans, Florida residents included, using the internet, accounting for digital assets is a growing concern.

Digital assets may sometimes only have meaning to the person who holds the account, but there are some that may have financial value as well. This is why leaving specific instructions for digital assets is so important. There may be increased obstacles when dealing with online accounts, such as data privacy laws or encryption, that can make it nearly impossible for beneficiaries to have access to these accounts, unless instructions are provided.

It is recommended that online accounts should be included in a will or trust, along with instructions on how to access the account and what should be done with it. These instructions should include information of where to find an inventory of accounts and passwords. Since social media is considered the norm, including these accounts is also important. Few seem to know that only verified family members can request that these accounts be closed or memorialized.

Estate planning can seem intimidating, with so many different things to consider. It is necessary to take time and ensure that all assets, tangible or intangible, are accounted for. While this may seem like a daunting task for some Florida residents, it can save family members a lot of undue stress in the future.

Source: USA Today, "Estate Planning 101: Don't forget digital assets", Eric McWhinnie, May 25, 2014

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