Estate Planning – It’s different in the electronic age
We have discussed before how estate planning is different in the electronic age in Leawood. As our society changes, so does the planning for our clients. We no longer just have the typical hard assets, like land and gold, but include a variety of digital assets that are a key part of our lives.
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Estate planning in the electronic age
In today’s electronic age, things are changing fast. Every time we turn around, there’s a new technology to make life easier. But sometimes keeping up with it all can be difficult.
With all this new technology, many people have “electronic assets,” such as website domain names and accounts with Gmail, Facebook, Yahoo! Mail, YouTube, Amazon, LinkedIn, and many others. Domain names are the owner’s private property like any other asset. Typically, the contents of electronic accounts like “Gmail” are considered to be private property.
Traditional assets, like a common checking account or savings bond, also use websites that require an account and may store personal or financial data. How do you make sure these assets can be accessed and property distributed upon your death or disability?
If you die or become incapacitated, you may want someone to delete credit card information and an old email with personal data. You may want to have someone go into your email account in order to notify your friends and contacts. You may want your treasured photos, saved in online photo albums, preserved for your family members and loved ones, instead of deleted for inactivity.
Although you could make a list of your assets and your wishes for them in your will or trust, passwords, websites and other critical information (assets) tend to change frequently. A more practical solution is to make general provisions in your planning about your assets and specific instructions about who shall have access and control over those assets and when. Then, you could keep a USB flash drive or other device with all of this information, together with account handling instructions. Of course, you want to keep it in a secure location and tell a trusted family member or responsible friend the location of the device and instructions.
If this all sounds like too much trouble, you could do nothing. With that option, most email providers will simply delete the email after a specified period of inactivity. Domain names expire after the period of registration. However, if these assets have substantial economic or emotional value, clearly this would not be the option to choose.
Technology is changing now more than ever. However, the law has not kept up with technological advances and there are many gray areas. Therefore, it is increasingly important to have an up-to-date, coordinated estate plan that is flexible enough to hand all of your assets as your health and family circumstances change.
That is why you should seek out advice from an experienced estate planning attorney who focuses his or her practice in the area that can help you develop this sort of plan.
Estate Planning is all about peace of mind. What estate planning is all about is discovering the right tools to implement your basic needs. We do this making use of the most up to date devices so that we can prepare a customized strategy at the lowest possible expense.
The Eastman Law Firm is an estate planning law practice. We concentrate on estate planning so that you can be guaranteed that you are getting the most up to date methods.
Phone: (913) 908-9113