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Making The Complex Understandable

Be sure to include digital assets in estate planning efforts

When faced with the need to prepare one's estate, many Louisiana residents feel overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. They realize that creating a will is a good place to start, and many are interested in learning more about trusts as a vehicle for passing down wealth without significant tax losses. When it comes to less obvious estate planning needs, however, many people simply are unaware of how to proceed.

Digital assets are an excellent example of such a shortfall. The term "digital assets" refers to the body of online assets and information that a person has accumulated. It can refer to actual accounts, such as Paypal, Venmo or Bitcoin. However, it also refers to accounts that hold other items of value, such as photographs, emails or social media information.

As more and more people are doing more and more things online, the issue of digital assets has gained relevance. For many families, being able to access those assets after the death of a loved one is a serious consideration. However, unless digital assets have been specifically addressed in estate planning documents, that access can be restricted or even denied.

A good place to begin is by creating a master list of all accounts, including login information and passwords. That list should be kept in a secure location, such as in the files of one's estate planning attorney or in a safe deposit box. There are also online options to securely store this information. Next, Louisiana residents should establish a digital asset plan as part of their larger estate planning approach. That includes designating an individual who would be granted access to online accounts when the time comes, and outlining which information, if any, should be excluded from access.

Source: kiplinger.com, "Put Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan", John M. Goralka, June 15, 2017

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