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Estate planning and digital assets

Nevada residents who are considering estate planning must remember to make provisions for digital assets as well as physical ones. Increasingly, people have more personal and financial information stored online and use the Internet to bank, pay bills and even invest. Passwords and usernames can make it impossible to access important information, and in some cases it may not even be clear what accounts a person owns. Just as physical property is addressed in wills, digital property should be as well.

An individual doing digital estate planning should begin by making a list of all digital assets, passwords and usernames. This needs to include everything from utility bills to bank accounts, social media and email. People may wish to entrust a single person with this sensitive information. Passwords and usernames can be stored in a safety deposit box with instructions left in the will for accessing the box since the will is public. Individuals should think carefully about whether there is information they do not wish family and friends to know about and what instructions should be left to deal with this information.

Social media may require some particular attention. For example, Facebook has protocols in place to deal with deceased users. If preparations are made ahead of time, a Facebook profile can be removed or memorialized.

The estate planning process is one that people often put off because it does not feel like an immediate concern and involves dealing with aspects of life many people would rather not think about. However, doing so will make some of the tasks faced by an individual's loved ones following their death easier to complete. An attorney may be of assistance in estate planning for all types of assets.

Source: USA Today, "Estate Planning 101: Don't forget digital assets", Eric McWhinnie, May 25, 2014

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