VanNess & VanNess, P.A.
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Three tips for protecting digital assets

Estate planning in 2016 is not like how other generations planned how their assets would be distributed when they passed away. Indeed, people still establish wills and different forms of trusts, but with so many people having digital assets (i.e. email accounts, social media data and electronically stored information) it is important to know what to do with these assets when a person passes away.

To help in this, the following tips should be considered. 

Provide instructions to use information – With many pieces of electronic data, they are protected by passwords. Oftentimes a person will become incapacitated or pass away without leaving any clue to executors on how to access email accounts, utilities data or even cell phones. With that, an addendum should be included to give authorized users access.

Consider who should have access – In the same vein, a will should be detailed language about who will be allowed to access private accounts. After all, technology companies may require established permissions before giving access to a deceased person’s accounts. As such, consider how the executor of your estate or a trusted beneficiary will be able to gather information.

Allocate ownership of data – Further, it may be helpful to identify who will own specific pieces of data; including electronic photo albums, digitized music collections, and subscriptions to online magazines or media services.

If you have questions or ideas for dealing with digital assets in one’s estate plan, or how to structure your will to protect such information, an experienced estate planning attorney can assist you. 

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