Is your online presence accounted for in your estate planning?

In days of yore (for purposes of this blog post, let’s just call such a time the period before personal computers), many of our readers in Delaware and elsewhere likely had a box or cabinet stuffed full of documents, pictures and other personally important data sitting unobtrusively in a corner closet.

You probably reminded yourself that, along with the spouse, kids and all pets, that was one of the first things you’d grab in case of a fire. It may have been labeled “important stuff” or something similar.

My, how times have changed for millions — perhaps billions — of us. These days, legions of people do their banking and shopping online. Their social interaction relies heavily upon Facebook and other media sites.

The point: Many of us have multiple accounts online that we deem exceedingly important. They are accessed through multiple user names and passwords.

Here’s a question: If you died tomorrow, would your loved ones be able to get into such accounts? Would they even know they exist?

More pointedly, if critically important information relating to various investment vehicles was accessible only through online accounts, might that data remain perpetually unknown to your estate planning executor and heirs?

And could it conceivably be hacked following your death, with all its proceeds going to cybercriminals, without your surviving family members being even remotely aware that such a thing was taking place?

A recent national media overview of so-called “digital assets” reminds us that much account data and activity is conducted via online platforms these days and that, given such a reality, those assets need to be identified and accounted for in an estate plan.

In other words, a conscientious planner will ensure that all important accounts and online information that he or she wants survivors to be able to access and control will be identified and catalogued in a manner that promotes that outcome.

An experienced estate administration attorney can help further that objective.



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