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New Yorkers' digital footprint is part of estate planning

Many New Yorkers feel good about their estate plan because they got all of their documents completed years ago. However, a lot has changed. Most of us now have a significant digital footprint. That's why it's essential to ensure that all of your digital assets are included in your estate planning. Further, it's crucial that your family or others who are managing your estate, whether you become incapacitated or die, have the access they need.

It may take some time to list all of this information. However, it will save your loved ones time and frustration at what will likely be an emotionally difficult time for them.

The first thing you should do is make a list of all of your log-in information and passwords. Also, list all of your email accounts, again with login information, passwords and other information that may be needed to access them, especially if they're being accessed from another computer.

List any accounts on which you make online payments. This includes online banking accounts, credit cards, utilities and other goods and services for which you pay online or have automatic transfer services set up.

Don't forget your social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pintrest. These may seem trivial, but this is where we record significant portions of our lives now. You'll likely want to preserve those for your family. These sites have differing rules regarding how pages are handled if the user dies. Be sure to instruct whomever is going to handle your social media accounts if you want a message of some type sent out to your friends and followers.

A copy of all of this information should be provided to the person designated to handle your estate as well as to your attorney. As with all of your financial and personal information, take care that it is in a secure location and that you regularly update it.

Your New York estate planning attorney can assist you in getting this information together to help ensure that you haven't forgotten anything. Again, while this may take some time and thought, it is a gift of sorts to your loved ones after you're no longer with them.

Source: Market Watch, "Estate planning and your digital footprint" Art Koff, Jun. 24, 2014

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