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Digital assets important focus in estate planning

Although spending time on Facebook or other social media sites is a popular pastime in modern society, determining in advance what will happen to a social media account when the account owner dies is often ignored. Estate plans in the state of Texas and elsewhere often dictate how physical goods will be managed and distributed. However, the estate planning process should also include creating provisions for all digital assets.

Digital assets are electronic records such as online accounts for retail stores, blogs and banks. An electronic record also includes information that is stored in a cloud — for example, digital books, an iTunes library or photos — or information that is stored online. In addition, a tablets and smartphones are electronic devices that fall under the category of digital assets.

People have a whopping 27 logins for online accounts on average. Each of these accounts must be managed following the deaths of their creators. Otherwise, these accounts can easily be hacked, with money potentially stolen at beneficiaries’ expense.

Incorporating digital assets into an estate plan in the state of Texas first involves creating a detailed list of all digital devices, accounts and information possessed, as well as the security questions, usernames and passwords for these particular assets. Keeping the list up to date can be challenging given how frequently passwords are generally changed and how often new accounts are set up online, but it is a critical undertaking. An attorney can help to facilitate the estate planning process when digital assets are involved.

Source:, “Estate Planning For The Digital World“, Abby VanDerHeyden, Feb. 27, 2017