21st Century Assets need Consideration in Estate Planning

A new article from The Greater Lansing Business Monthly highlights a new “asset” which needs to be considered for Estate Planning:

If you already have an estate plan in place, have you provided your beneficiaries access to your online accounts to cancel, save or change them? Without such provisions, you could achieve an unwanted Internet immortality because sites such as Facebook or Yahoo! don’t acknowledge your personal representative or trustee as having access rights to your accounts. According to Patricia Kefalas Dudek, of Dudek & Associates in Farmington Hills, and Howard H. Collens of Galloway & Collens PLLC in Huntington Woods, modern estate plans need to designate a “digital personal representative.” 2

“Decide who is in charge of those assets if you become disabled or when you die, and name that person as your digital personal representative with power to protect your assets,” Dudek explains. She and Collens suggest preparing a list of all e-mail accounts, social websites in which you participate, and online financial and commercial accounts.

However, if you do not want to share your passwords with another person while you are still alive, there are Internet applications that allow you to store not only your passwords but also your digital estate plan (for example, LegacyLocker.com or DataInherit.com). Dudek and Collens also suggest giving the personal representative access to a ClaimID.com account to find all of your personal websites without having to search all over the Internet. “Make sure you indicate whether you want your digital personal representative to archive your content, share your content with others, or delete it,” adds Collens.

Dudek and Collens recommend putting digital estate planning language in wills, trusts and powers of attorney. They specifically mentioned powers of attorney so, if you are temporarily disabled, someone is handling your online accounts, especially if you make bill payments online.