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Estate planning in a digital world

Estate planning in any form presents challenges. Legal complexities combine with emotionally charges issued. Simply stated, few want to face their own mortality.

Yet, important, highly proactive steps can ease burdens and provide everyone involved with much-needed peace of mind.

More wills are covering property that exists in the digital world. New laws in Ohio may provide much needed help in digital property management as it relates to estate planning. Executors, administrators and trustees throughout the state could find it easier to request catalogs of assets, screen names and passwords.

Examples of digital assets include:

  • Social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Email accounts
  • Business and personal websites
  • Cloud-stored digital libraries of books, music and movies
  • Bitcoin digital currency
  • Frequent flier miles
  • Online reward points

Many forms of digital assets have additional value that can potentially be exploited, particularly when they contain stored credit card information. When it comes to cases involving death or incapacity, immediate action is vital as post-mortem online theft is on the rise throughout the country.

As a digital library grows when an estate plan is already in place, revising existing wills and trusts is necessary. Effective estate management starts with a thorough accounting of the assets and a detailed inventory. Equally important is the specific language in legal documents that grants access to digital assets

Digital assets are becoming a more prominent part of estate planning. Laws must continue to evolve that protects that valuable property. However, it is up to the individual to take the necessary steps and ensure that all assets are properly managed and distributed.

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