Estate planning and digital assets

Minnesota residents should make sure that their estate plans include provisions for their digital assets. Doing so can prevent surviving loved ones from having to handle the frustrating and sometimes expensive process of properly managing the digital assets left behind by a deceased loved one.

A comprehensive list of all of the different devices and online accounts one owns should be created. It should include all relevant access codes, usernames, encryption keys and passwords.

When the list has been completed, individuals should clearly specify the person who will be authorized to manage the assets. Specific instructions for handling the assets should also be included.

One of the most important digital assets a person may leave behind when they die is their email account. It is important to make arrangements so that their email can be accessed after death. Access to the emails will be especially important for password resets for other online accounts. If there is more than one email account, it will be important to specify to which online accounts the emails are linked.

Individuals who have Google accounts can use the Inactive Account Manager to make sure that their beneficiaries are able to have access. The manager allows users to determine how their accounts should be handled if they are inactive for 3, 6, 12 or 18 months. They can have their data deleted after the inactive period or have up to 10 people notified of the inactivity and granted access to the accounts.

An estate planning attorney may advise clients what type of legal devices are needed to protect certain types of assets, including digital assets. The attorney may explain the benefits of use specific types of trusts and wills to protect financial assets for future generations.

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