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Estate planning laws have yet to catch up to technology

Nearly every Washington, DC resident has some sort of online presence, even if it is just a social media page or photo-sharing site. Some people have financial accounts that are only accessible online, along with other digital assets. Even so, legislatures and other lawmaking bodies have not caught up with the available technology. Therefore, digital assets need to be taken care of during estate planning in order to ensure that they are dealt with appropriately after death.

It is not necessary to outline every digital asset in a will or trust. The important part is that the information is easily accessed by the person or people who will need it after death -- particularly the executor of the decedent's estate. The details can be as simple as providing web addresses, usernames and passwords, or as complex as needed in order to access the accounts when the time comes.

A list providing access to information and instructions regarding what is to happen to each online account can be kept with other estate planning documents. Keeping it updated will be necessary to ensure that the most current list is left behind. This will at least provide access to the accounts as a starting point.

Estate planning documents are only as good as the ability of those left behind to locate the assets belonging to the decedent. A Washington, DC resident may need advice and assistance not only with ensuring they account for every asset -- digital or otherwise -- but also with structuring an estate plan that appropriately expresses his or her wishes. The executor of the estate may still have some hurdles to overcome until the law catches up with today's technology, but it will help to give that person a good place to start.

Source: insurancenewsnet.com, "Laws vary on accessing digital assets of deceased", Tim Grant, Jan. 7, 2015

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