People tend to think about physical assets when they prepare to create an estate plan or discuss one with family members. However, as technology permeates the lives of the young and old, an estate plan needs to include digital assets and instructions for online accounts just as much as it may include instructions for physical assets. Families in Michigan may want to discuss plans and set up a plan to deal with these accounts or update an existing plan as needed.
One essential piece of information that needs to be shared or entered into an estate plan is the passwords to these various accounts. If these accounts pertain to bank accounts or are tied to finances in some way, it is vital to ensure that beneficiaries have these passwords somehow. A simple list of accounts and passwords can be added to any estate-planning documents.
There is now software aimed at password management, and a master password can unlock all of the accounts. This can be essential to access accounts that control day-to-day finances and essential bills, such as the mortgage. The fate of other accounts not tied to finances needs to be outlined also, as they may still contain sensitive or personal information. This can include instructions for social media accounts and also pictures stored in accounts such as Dropbox.
While passing along passwords may be the first step, outlining clear instructions as to what needs to be done once accounts are accessed is also part of the process. An estate plan needs to be crafted that will include all of this information and also clearly outlines the wishes with little to no room for misinterpretation. For those in Michigan who already have an estate plan mapped out for beneficiaries, revisiting that plan may be needed at certain intervals, such as the New Year, as this milestone can be a reliable reminder to tend to estate plan needs in general.
Source: mainstreet.com, “Why Your Estate Planning Should Include Your Facebook Page As Well“, Jason Notte, Jan. 7, 2015