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Estate planning and accounting for digital assets

Drafting estate planning documents in Illinois is something that everyone must consider. Numerous family disputes have erupted over the failure to take out these essential documents. However, for those who do take the time and follow the necessary steps to adequately plan, it is easy to forget certain aspects. While there are certain aspects such as a home, bank accounts and other assets that will come to the forefront, that does not mean other issues should be ignored. One such issue is digital assets.

Included in digital assets are online accounts. These might have photographs, videos, email accounts, social media and more. When a person dies, these could be left completely up in the air. The family members might not have access to them. For social media, that might not be a major problem, but for certain digital areas in which money and property - physical and intellectual - was involved, it is something that can cost the family.

Given that this is such a relatively new problem, it has yet to be adequately addressed by many states. Several larger companies like Google and Facebook have options to deal with such a problem, but the digital assets can cast a wide swath across the web and not every one of them has an alternative to handle such a situation. Crafting an estate plan can account for the digital assets and detail how they are to be handled after death. Having a list for all accounts and passwords with the assets that are involved is beneficial.

People who are taking the necessary steps to craft a cogent estate plan should be aware of this issue and take steps to deal with it. A legal professional experienced in estate planning can help to come up with an organized series of strategies to shield loved ones from the difficulties that will arise with digital assets and handling them.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Don't forget digital assets in estate plan," Elliot Raphaelson, May 31, 2017

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