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Accounting for all assets, including digital ones

The purpose of an estate plan is to be sure that family is aware of how a Massachusetts resident's estate is to be administered in case of incapacitation or death. In order to effectively do so, family needs to know about every asset the individual owns, including digital ones. Without this information, crucial assets and liabilities could go unnoticed.

Many people have social media accounts, online retail accounts and bank accounts that only exist online. If family members do not know they exist, it might be impossible to properly administer an individual's affairs. Making a detailed list of digital assets can provide the information necessary for family members to adequately take care of them if the individual becomes incapacitated or passes away.

The list needs to include the company name, type of account and login and password information. This includes any account that is paid online such as utilities or retail accounts. It may also help to indicate how each digital account should be taken care of when the time comes. These instructions could include what to tell people on social media sites regarding a person's incapacitation or death.

Some believe that older Massachusetts residents may neglect their digital assets when creating an estate plan. That may be true, but younger people also need to be sure to include them as well. With today's technological advances, it is possible never to step foot in a financial institution in order to have an account -- and the same could be said for retail establishments. Dealing with the emotions of a family member becoming incapacitated or passing away can be difficult, but having a comprehensive estate plan that includes all a person's assets could help ease their burden in an already challenging time.

Source: MarketWatch, "Estate planning and your digital footprint", Art Koff, June 24, 2014

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