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Florida needs laws for dealing with digital assets upon death

There are many aspects of your life to think about when you are creating an estate plan. You have to decide what will happen to your real estate, vehicles and bank accounts. Don't forget about retirement accounts, investments and insurance policies. On top of all of those, you also have to think about what will happen to your digital assets if you use the Internet.

The interesting thing about digital assets, such as social media accounts, online bank accounts and financial accounts like Paypal, is that there isn't a uniform method for dealing with those assets when a person dies. That is rather shocking when you consider that 87 percent of Americans use the Internet.

While eight states have laws on the books for dealing with online assets, Florida doesn't. State Senator Dorothy Hukill wants to change that. She wants to see Florida have laws on the books that are worded in a similar manner as the law signed into effect in Delaware.

The sad reality is that website administrators have the right to grant or deny petitions for online access of accounts by heirs after someone dies. Until laws are passed that govern these assets, even the wording in a will might not mean your wishes are granted. Even if you leave behind your usernames and passwords, your loved ones might not be able to get into your accounts.

Planning ahead is vital for every aspect of estate planning. If you have digital assets you want to keep protected, you should consult with someone who is familiar with digital asset policies and how to handle estate planning. Doing so now might save your family members a big headache after you are gone.

Source: The Bulletin, "Lawmaker works to address digital afterlife" Kate Santich, Nov. 03, 2014

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