"It used to be when someone passed away, there were all these clues -- a paper trail around the house about what the deceased person owned and owed," says Karin C. Prangley, an estate attorney at Krasnow Saunders Kaplan & Beninati in Chicago. "Now there is no more paper trail. All of that is digital. It's a big deal because it's hard to get at that digital information."
Estate planning goes way beyond your tangible assets. In the technological world, you also have to plan for your digital assets. How would one access your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, and the like when you are no longer here to provide the password?
Fox Business discussed the preparations you should be undertaking now in a recent article entitled "Tips for Planning Your Estate for the Digital Age".
"Planning your digital afterlife," as Fox Business calls it, can prevent numerous headaches for loved ones by taking a few simple measures. This will decrease the chances of family members becoming online sleuths (by design or default) after you're gone. The article suggests these ideas:
- Keep a snail mail trail. Even if you do business mostly online, you should ask to receive some paper statements so your heirs can have info on your accounts from mail delivery; and
- Consolidate your accounts. Combining financial accounts or at least moving assets to a small number of institutions will make them easier to track.
Otherwise, Fox says, finding the records could be sheer luck.
As part of your planning, you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can give you more ideas on how to set up your estate in the most efficient manner.
Reference: Fox Business (March 21, 2014) "Tips for Planning Your Estate for the Digital Age"