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Estate planning needs to include your digital world

When you pass away, what happens to all your digital accounts? You have music on your computer, books on your tablet and online bank accounts. So what are you and your attorney going to do about an estate plan that includes your digital world?

You may have a will that tells everyone what you want done when you are no longer here. The unfortunate thing is that, too often, your digital assets are left out of the plan altogether. This can be a problem if you don't address it now while you can.

There is no clear set of rules or laws that the government has set in place to protect or distribute your digital assets when you pass away. However, there are steps you can take to help those who are left behind.

First of all, read all the fine print from your social media accounts. Many times, when you sign up for these accounts, you have to consent to a lot that is unclear at the time because you just want to set up the account. You aren't concerned about what it is you are agreeing to. Your attorney can assist with this.

Do they allow someone else to delete your account? Once you have passed away, you need to ensure ahead of time that these accounts are cancelled. Many times, the fine print says only you can delete the account. In essence, it is there for perpetuity.

Second, if you have an online bank account, your executor or representative can present a death certificate to the bank and have the account closed and the online account de-activated.

Because the online account is just an extension of your actual bank account that is set up with a physical bank, the online portion can be closed fairly easily.

If you need answers to these and other queries, you may need to talk to a legal representative who can guide you through the process of estate planning for your digital and physical assets. Knowing that you have taken care of this aspect of your life can give you peace of mind.

Source: News8000.com, "Digital estate planning, how to manage your assets before you die," Keely Arthur, May. 03, 2015

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