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Michigan families need estate plan for digital assets

Estate plans essentially outline the fate of one's personal belongings and other assets, such as bank accounts and investments. As technology continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it is becoming more important to think outside of the box when it comes to estate planning. Simply put, it is about much more than who gets the fine china and the house. An estate plan for Michigan residents may now need to include digital assets.

Digital assets can include anything from email accounts, pictures stored in a cloud and online banking information. More than half of all Americans now engage in some kind of online banking. This means there may not be a traditional checkbook or bank statements in the mail to help beneficiaries connect the dots about finances.

As part of the estate planning process, it may be necessary to disclose email passwords or give instructions to destroy or erase certain accounts out of privacy concerns. Simply leaving relatives to go and guess passwords to access accounts may not be the best legal means of securing online banking or payment responsibilities. Clear instructions for use of digital assets is also a must when estate planning takes place.

Before anyone in Michigan can begin the estate planning process, having an accurate account of what he or she has and the value of property is a good idea. Having to include digital assets in the process may be new, but it is proving vital. An estate plan done right can be the best way to ensure assets, online and physical, are handled exactly as the person wishes.

Source:, "Estate Planning 101: Don't Forget About Your Digital Assets", Eric McWhinnie, May 19, 2014

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