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What happens to your digital assets when you die?

As the world changes, so too does estate planning. One area that was not important years ago, the handling of digital assets, will only loom larger in the coming years. Clients putting together a comprehensive estate plan should consider a strategy to protect their digital footprint.

In a list of eight essential documents for estate planning, Money Talks News puts a provision for digital assets on that short list. These assets refer to such things as digital photos, computer hard drive and information stored on the Cloud. People who are active on social media may need to plan for what happens to their accounts with Facebook, Instagram, Yahoo, Twitter and the rest. In fact, an estate could have substantial revenue potential in online accounts. Protection and documentation of computer passwords also requires attention.

Another article in Money Talks News describes the importance of naming a digital executor of your will.  This trusted person in essence manages a person’s virtual legacy. The responsibility extends to many areas, including the following:

  • Deleting computer files or erasing information on a hard drive
  • Collecting and transferring any assets in online accounts
  • Reporting any income-generating items to heirs
  • Closing online accounts that are no longer needed
  • Organizing digital photos, writings and other content

Nowadays, nearly everyone has a digital footprint, and this is likely to grow in the future. Each digital site is likely to have its own privacy policy and rules for allowing access to accounts so a record of passwords will be valuable to a digital executor. Estate planning more and more requires planning for the treatment of a person’s digital presence.