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Can you include digital assets in your estate planning?

Digital assets aren't tangible things you can physically pass on to another person, but that doesn't mean you don't want to include them in your estate plans. In some cases, your digital assets might even come with monetary value, which means you might want to work with an estate law professional to include them in your will for distribution to your heirs.

A digital assets is specifically any type of electronic record -- online or off -- for which someone has an ownership interest. Your Facebook account is a digital asset; you have an ownership or control interest in that account. If you create a blog or website, those are digital assets, as are your online bank accounts. Even your personal Amazon account could be considered a digital asset.

As you can see, in this modern age, almost everyone has at least some digital assets. When you start preparing for estate planning, make sure you consider those assets and how you want them handled after you are gone. In some cases, planning just means making provisions so that your executor or family can appropriately close accounts. Leaving online retail accounts open, which are often tied to your credit card or bank accounts, can leave your estate open to cybercrime.

Some individuals want their social media accounts to remain open and managed by family members; others specify that these accounts should be closed. However you want to include your digital assets in your estate legacy, it's important to ensure heirs know how to access all your online accounts. Consider making a list of digital assets and keeping password information in a secure location.

Source: Inside Indiana Business, "Estate Planning For The Digital World," Abby VanDerHeyden, accessed March 31, 2017

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