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Leaving digital assets to intended beneficiaries

Thinking of your daily activities, you probably spend a lot of time online. From social media accounts to blogs and other digital media, people tend to use the Internet a lot. As your presence online grows, so might the need for you to include those digital assets in your estate plan. Florida residents might like to know exactly why it is important to include digital assets in an estate plan.

For some people, time online is time spent making money. If something happens to you, your family will likely need to have access to the websites and accounts you use to make money. A PayPal account for financial transactions, online bank accounts, blogs, and an eBay account are all some of the digital assets your family members might need access to if you pass away.

In some cases, a website's terms of service dictate what will happen to the account if you die. This, however, could be a completely different plan than what you want to happen to the account. By setting up plans for your digital assets in your estate plan, you will make it easier for your intended beneficiaries to access these online accounts.

As part of your estate plan, you should make a list of the digital assets you have. Include user names, passwords, and other necessary information. You can provide these in your estate plan without having to actually give the information to your family members or friends.

What many people may not realize is that accessing another person's digital accounts without express permission can be a criminal offense. This is yet another reason why you should include these assets in your estate plan. The Stored Communication Act of 1986 is one of the reasons why your loved ones need your consent.

Because including digital assets in an estate plan is something fairly new, it is important to make sure that your wishes are made known in a way that is enforceable and legal. This could mean keeping up with changes in the law that might alter how your wishes should be conveyed.

Source: InvestmentNews, "The latest wrinkle in estate planning: Digital assets" Darla Mercado, Jul. 20, 2014

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